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The Official Newsletter of the Hovercraft Museum Trust & the Hovercraft Society

Hovercraft Bulletin July to September 2001

In this Issue: Latest News from the Hovercraft Museum & Society Price £5
Hovercraft Industry News
Military Applications for Hovercraft
US Army Transportation Museum
Items From the Archives
Mark Porter’s 1:32 Radio Controlled SR.N4 Model
Round Up of Commercial Hovercraft for Sale
Hovershow News

ISSN 0144-3755 Issue Number 44

Our Details Important Notice Hovercraft Museum Staff
The Hovercraft Museum Trust is a
Registered Charity (No. 1003689).
Access to the Hovercraft Museum Trustees
Museum Collection
Opinions expressed by the contributors are
not necessarily endorsed by the Editor or
Alan Burns
The Hovercraft Museum Trust maintains a Rochford House, Newton Place,
Trustees of the Hovercraft Museum Trust. collection at two storage sites in the Gosport Lee-on-the-Solent, H a m p s h i r e
No responsibility for the quality of goods or area. The Museum is not yet open to the PO13 9JL
services advertised in this newsletter can be public, and the office is not permanently 023 9255 0477 (home)
accepted by the publishers and manned, however we have volunteer staff
advertisements are accepted on the express attending site on most days.
condition that they in no way contravene the Members requiring a visit to the collection at Peter Habens
provisions of the Trade Descriptions Act HMS Daedalus or Wicor Farm should 8 Holford Road, Wooton Bridge,
1968 nor any other prevailing Consumer contact the Manager, Brian Russell or his Ryde, Isle of Wight PO33 4NL
Legislation. assistant, Lyndon Ford on the office 01903 882205 (home)
Contributions to this newsletter are number – 023 9255 2090 to arrange a
mutually convenient time. If the office is
welcomed and submissions should be
unattended, please leave your details, a
Warwick Jacobs
addressed to: 15 St Marks Road, Gosport,
contact number and your requested visit
Hampshire PO12 2DA
The Editor The Hovercraft Bulletin date and we will get back to you as soon as
07970 986251 (mobile)
12 Ferndale Road Collier Row possible.
Romford Essex RM5 3ER
United Kingdom
It should be noted that for visitor numbers Chris Potter
less than ten, a minimum twenty four hours 12 Ferndale Road, Collier Row,
Articles may be typed, hand-written, on IBM notice is required and car registration details Romford, Essex RM5 3ER
3.5” disk or CD in MS Word or other raw text will need to be notified. For greater 07971 607556 (mobile)
format. The Editor accepts no responsibility numbers, which will involve a greater
for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or number of hosts, as much notice as is
transparencies, though material will be practical is required.
returned if requested when submitting. All
Stuart Syrad
Working parties are held on most Saturday (Chairman of the Hovercraft Society)
material addressed to The Hovercraft mornings, where volunteers assist with
Society, The Hovercraft Museum Trust, The 32 Springdale Road,
cleaning and restoration work on the various Broadstone, Dorset BH18 9BU
Hovercraft Bulletin or the Editor will be craft in our care.
considered available for publication unless 01202 692642 (home)
otherwise indicated. The Editor reserves the
right to edit all material. Accuracy remains The Hovercraft Society
the author’s responsibility. The Hovercraft Mick Wells
Bulletin and its contents are copyright © and 84 Glencoe Road, Margate,
permission to reproduce any material must The United Kingdom Hovercraft Society was Kent CT9 2SW
be obtained from the Editor in writing. The formed in 1971, later becoming ‘The 01843 296538 (home)
Hovercraft Society and The Hovercraft Hovercraft Society’.
Museum Trust accept no responsibility, nor The Society supports the Hovercraft
do they endorse any product, design or Museum Trust in it’s aim to set up an
concept mentioned anywhere in the
Hovercraft Bulletin.
International Hovercraft Centre to promote Museum Manager
and acknowledge the hovercraft world past
We currently hold the largest electronic and present.
archive of hovercraft related material in the
Brian Russell
The Society’s activities include lectures and The H ov e r c r af t Mu s e u m,
world and in order to make this as complete films on various aspects of the hovercraft Argus Gate, Chark Lane,
as possible, The Hovercraft Museum is very industry past and present. Visits to Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire
interested in borrowing any hovercraft- hovercraft manufacturers and PO13 9NY
related photographic material for scanning. establishments, and social events are also
Formats that can be accepted include prints, 023 9255 2090
organised. (office - 24 hours phone / fax)
negatives or mounted slides. Please contact
The Society is run by a council consisting of 07818 087855 (mobile)
the editor if you wish to offer material for
scanning and note that all material will be well respected persons from the hovercraft
industry. Council members are nominated
returned to the owner. Having said this, the
Museum would also be very grateful for and voted on to Council on an annual basis
donations of original material for its archives at the Society’s AGM. Manager’s Assistant
which are held at Lee-on-the-Solent.
The Main objectives of the Hovercraft
Society are: Lyndon Ford
023 9255 2090
1. The encouragement of invention, research
(office - 24 hours phone / fax)
and development of Hovercraft, and other
07881 922778 (mobile)
related issues.
2. Discussion on operating and trading
aspects of Hovercraft.
3. The Circulation of a quarterly newsletter
(jointly with the Hovercraft Museum—i.e. this
On The Cover: The Museum’s SR.N5
(006) being put through its paces at
Hovershow ‘66 (Photo by Pat Lawrence)

July to September 2001 Page 2

Latest News & Events
Museum Open Day Help Needed “The Christmas Spirit”
Christmas by Moonlight
& Hovercraft Society The continued development of the
Hovercraft Museum Storage Site at Lee-on- Friends member Peter Mugridge has
AGM - Saturday the-Solent to increase its utilisation, is very organised a unique event for this year’s
dependent on the support of volunteers. The festive season.
13th October 2001 Trust needs support in two ways—help with
physical tasks, the donation of crockery and Being held on Saturday 29th December, this
Defence Estates have given permission for sponsorship of equipment. will be a traditional Xmas party, followed by
an open day to be held at the Hovercraft a 90 minute moonlight sightseeing flight to
Museum storage site at the former HMS With the opening of The Sir Christopher the Scottish borders in a Boeing 757, then a
Daedalus on Saturday 13th October, to Cockerell Lecture Theatre, visits of traditional Xmas dinner. Venue will be one
which the public can be invited. organisations can be hosted. However, help of the Heathrow hotels as the flight will
is needed ill refurbishing the BP Travelling depart from Heathrow.
This will be used as an opportunity to update Exhibition, with the provision of crockery and
the general public on the way ahead for the cutlery to facilitate the serving of If the aircraft loads to 90% or higher, then
Museum. This will help to keep our profile refreshments and the sponsorship of 10% of the profits will be donated to the
high and raise much-needed funds via projectors, audio facilities and a pull down Hovercraft Museum.
entrance fees, hovercraft rides, shop sales screen. Whilst enough stacking chairs are
and a raffle. held, some aluminium trestle tables would Please see the enclosed flyer for more
be extremely useful. information and contact details.
The open day will feature the following:
The next move, once the Theatre is
Presentations in the Lecture Theatre on the completed, is to re-decorate the West end of Hovershow 2002
Museum at 11:00, 12:30, 2:00 and 3:00. the hanger and to mount a display—perhaps
Videos will be shown in between and a featuring hovercraft propulsor development. Manager Brian Russell and the Trustees
notice board will clearly show the times. The floor will also be painted. At the same have already started preparing for
time, the hovercraft on display will be sorted Hovershow 2002 which is again due to be
Hovercraft rides (weather permitting) on a into a more relevant layout. held over the May Day bank holiday
Griffon 2000, operated by the Museum with weekend, subject to approval from Defence
proceeds to the Museum. Prices will be: One of the Trust's most valuable assets is Estates, our landlords at Daedalus.
the archive of reports, papers, books and
Adults £4.00 Children £3.00 magazines. This archive is not currently If you feel you can offer any help in any
Tickets will be available on the slipway and user-friendly and needs significant work. capacity either prior to or during the show,
the craft will offer continuous operation Again, volunteers could help with this please contact Brian so he can start to co-
throughout the event. process and the provision of glass fronted ordinate things at an early stage.
bookcases and cupboards.
The Museum shop will be open as usual,
and a raffle will also be run. Refreshments If you feel you can help with any of the Next Issue
will be available from a stall run by the outlined requirements, please let me know
Museum. by contacting me directly at the Museum’s Now a quarterly publication, the Winter issue
office address. Thanks very much for any of the Hovercraft Bulletin is due for issue just
One of the Hoverspeed SR.N4 craft will be help you feel you can give. before Christmas in about mid-December.
opened up to visitors. A hoverbed will be Following issues during this subscription
period will be published at the end of March
demonstrated and some Museum craft and
models will be operated in a fenced off area. Presentation at and end of June, at which time subscriptions
are again due for renewal.
Other attractions such as a bouncy castle
are also planned. Museum
Talking of which, thanks very much to all
Entrance fees will be as follows: Friday 12th October those members who have recently renewed
for the 2001/2 subscription year—it’s much
Adults £2.00 Children £1.00 Friends or the Hovercraft Museum member appreciated.
Hamon Stewart will be giving an illustrated
Museum Friends and Society Members will If you have any material you feel would be of
presentation on his work in Germany,
be FREE (on presentation of a valid interest to our membership, we would be
looking at the history and development of
membership card). grateful for submission of this by the end of
November to allow it to be incorporated into
Opening times will be 10:00am to 4:00pm. the Winter issue. We also welcome
This is to be held in the recently opened Sir
The Hovercraft Society AGM will then be comments and suggestions for articles for
Christopher Cockerell Lecture Theatre in
held at 5:00pm and a dinner will follow at the future issues.
Building 40 at HMS Daedalus at 7pm for
Alverbank Hotel, Alverstoke which will cost
7.30pm on Friday 12th October—the Please also let us know what you think of the
around £18.00 per head.
evening before the open day. new magazine-style format of the newsletter.
This event will only be possible with the help We are striving to include as much topical
Friends of the Hovercraft Museum can use news as possible, as well as articles and
of volunteers to act as stewards, man the
their membership card to gain access to the pictures from our archives which you may
gate, supervise hovercraft rides, safety etc.
site. Non-members will need to notify the not have seen before. If any urgent, time-
Whilst these tasks will not be as onerous as
Site Manager of their intentions and car critical news or information comes to light
with the main Hovershow, they are equally
registration number at least 24 hours prior to between issues, we will send out information
as important.
the event. sheets appropriate to the event—much as
If you can help and / or are interested in the has been seen in recent weeks with a
For more details telephone the Museum mailing from the Manager.
evening dinner, please return the enclosed
office on 023 9255 2090 or write to us at the
form and full details will be forwarded when Best Regards,
Office address.
available. Chris Potter (Editor)

July to September 2001 Page 3

Hovercraft Industry News
(by Paul Hynds of Speed at Sea) Saudi Arabian Order solution than its previous older-generation
SR.N6 vehicles. The complicated airframe-
Hovercraft are being introduced The Saudi Arabian government order is for a type construction of the SR.N6 hulls was
total of five Griffon 8000TD(M) hovercraft to prone to corrosion and required intensive
to carry out a varied range of protective and corrective maintenance. The
enter service with The Saudi Arabia Border
tasks such as coastguard and Guard. This order, won in an international Griffon hovercraft hull is fabricated as a
border patrols, life-saving rescue tender, represents a significant business simple 'egg-box structure' raft using marine
duties and passenger carrying coup for Griffon as the Saudi Arabian Border grade alloy material. The complex, high fuel
Guard is the world's most experienced consumption, gas turbines of the SR.N6
services, encompassing
operator of military and paramilitary hovercraft are now replaced by lower
operations in India, Saudi Arabia, maintenance, more economical diesel units
hovercraft deployed in security and search
the UK and Cuba and rescue (SAR) roles. Sixteen British in the Griffon 8000TD(M) hovercraft.
Hovercraft Corporation-built SR.N6 gas The five Saudi Arabian Border Guard
Griffon Hovercraft turbine powered hovercraft have been hovercraft will each be fitted with two water-
operated on both the Red Sea and the cooled MTU 12V183TB32 diesel engines.
Following Griffon Arabian Gulf coastal sectors by the Saudi Power output is approximately 600kW per
Hovercraft's successful Arabian Border Guard over the past 30 unit to provide both lift and thrust. Each
tender to supply six 20m- years. Two of the new Griffon hovercraft will machinery set will link the MTU diesel
long amphibious air cushion enter service on the east-coast of Saudi engine to the lift fans and Hoffman variable-
vehicles to the Indian Arabia, with the remain three deployed on pitch ducted propellers via a system of
Coastguard, the the west sector. shafts and drive belts. As specified for this
Southampton, UK, based For the Saudi Arabian Border Guard the new order the Griffon 800OTD(M) will be capable
company has also won hovercraft will present a less complex, lower of a disposable load of 12 tonnes translating
orders from the Royal maintenance and more cost-effective into a payload of 8 tonnes.
National Lifeboat Institution
Performance requirements are for a
maximum speed in excess of 50 knots and a
mission range of 500 nautical miles. Power
redundancy provides a 'get-you-home'
capability on one machinery set. The Saudi
Arabian Border Guard's Griffon 8000TD(M)
hovercraft differs from the similarly
designated versions delivered to the Indian
Coast Guard in the design of its
superstructure arrangements, to fulfil the
multi-purpose mission role required by the
Saudi Arabian government.
These latest craft will be fitted with a special
well deck and bow ramp enabling the
hovercraft to carry a single Jeep or Land
Rover type all-terrain vehicle. Equipment will
include fire-fighting monitor and pump
system, a one-tonne deck-mounted crane,
and a 0.5-calibre machine gun. The revised
accommodation cabin is divided into a crew
room and a main area with provision for up
to 16 seated troops. Twin air-conditioning
systems are installed to sustain a
comfortable interior environment and
protection from the outside temperatures
exceeding 50°C found in the local
operational theatres.

Artist’s impression of the Griffon 8000TD(M) half-welldeck craft

being built for the Saudi Arabian Border Guard (W Jacobs)

(RNLI) in the UK and from the Saudi Arabian

government. The first two Griffon 8000TD(M)
hovercraft in the six-craft Indian Coastguard
order are now in full operational service.

Four craft are being constructed by Garden

Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd of
Calcutta, under a licensing agreement.
Griffon Hovercraft is supplying technical
supervision on site together with
maintenance and operation training
personnel. Griffon has also delivered three
3000TDX hovercraft to the Shell Petroleum

The RNLI Griffon 450TD craft ready for transport after

Hovershow 2001 at HMS Daedalus (Chris Potter)

July to September 2001 Page 4

RNLI Craft crew members will be involved operations in the Caribbean transporting
in the testing and their passengers and light freight to and from
The UK's principal marine life- comments will help the project Cuba. The craft is linking Batabano, which is
saving agency, the RNLI, has team decide if hovercraft have on the south coast 70km from Havana, with
taken delivery of a Griffon type a practical use for the RNLI Cayo Largo del Sur and Isla de la Juventua.
450TD hovercraft. The RNLI throughout the UK and Marcelo Perez, the commercial manager of
currently operates 307 Republic of Ireland. The Aeromar, commented that the introduction of
conventional vessels from 224 hovercraft will start two weeks the hovercraft established the first regular
lifeboat stations around the of trials at Southend on Monday hovercraft passenger flights on the American
coasts of Great Britain and Ireland. 3 September. The other chosen continent and that the service would
locations are Hunstanton in Norfolk, transport passengers at half the price of
The 7.6m long hovercraft has been Morecambe in Lancashire, Flint in Flintshire aircraft travel. Aeromar is planning to expand
purchased by the RNLI to evaluate the and West Kirby in Merseyside. its hovercraft routes in the future. Courier is
potential of the air cushion concept to powered by four Deutz BF12L 513FC air-
facilitate access to many areas that are The locations have been selected because cooled diesels each rated at 386kW driving
currently difficult to reach. Theses include of the number of incidents, which occur ducted propellers to give a service speed of
shallow waters, mudflats, sandbars and tidal where a hovercraft might be used. For 38 knots and a maximum speed of over 50
regions where people become stranded and instance where there are extensive sand or knots. The craft has capacity for up to 101
where boats frequently run aground. All of mud flats, which inhibit the ability of water- passengers.
these areas cannot, at present, be reached borne response. Mud rescue in particular
by conventional craft or land-based vehicles. can be very dangerous and slow to execute, During Hovershow 2001, a return hovercraft
whilst a hovercraft can reach the casualty service was operated from Ryde to Lee-on-
The RNLI stresses that the craft is being very quickly and affect a rescue without Solent, departing at 10.45 and returning from
tested in operational conditions to ascertain danger to the rescuers. HMS Daedalus at 15.00 on May 4th / 5th /
the technical and operational suitability of 6th / 7th. The craft used was the Freedom 90
hovercraft, and, if the extensive trials prove Speaking of the project, its managers, Hugh which returned to Ryde in between each trip
satisfactory, to enable the RNLI to draw up a Fogarty, staff officer operations and Tony and also offered a hovercraft ride each
specification, in terms of optimum size, Stankus, senior design engineer, say, afternoon before the departure back to the
capacity and speed for SAR hovercraft. It is 'During the evaluation in Poole, we tested a Island.
believed that the total requirement could be standard Griffon 450TD hovercraft and tried
for up to 20 amphibious craft. The Griffon to establish what terrains and conditions it The Hovercraft Museum & Society also
450TD is powered by twin Volkswagen could work with and how much training staged two day excursion charters from Lee-
automotive diesel engines each developing would be involved for the volunteers who on-Solent to Alum Bay on the Island, using
56kW Each engine is flexibly mounted and would operate it. The hovercraft showed that one of the three Hovertravel craft. The visits
drives an integrated lift and thrust system it could withstand damage, was easy to were held on Saturday 2nd and 30th June.
comprising flexible couplings, a belt and prepare for launch, worked well over sand
and mud and crew training was comparable The former SAS craft Liv Viking resides at
pulley set powering an aluminium alloy Aluminum Shipbuilders' Fishbourne yard in a
centrifugal lift fan, and a 1m-diameter plastic to that undertaken by inshore lifeboat crews.'
poor state of repair. Meanwhile the Freja
ducted propulsion fan. 'Its limitations, which will be further tested Viking has been moved to Hoverwork's
The structure is fabricated from marine during these coastal trials, include its workshops at nearby St. Helens for full
grade aluminium alloy with detachable side carrying capacity (maximum 450kg), an refurbishment and upgrade to match sister
decks mounted on a central hull. The cabin inability to work on porous surfaces and a craft Idun Viking and Freedom 90.
is constructed from glass-reinforced plastic weather restriction to a wind speed of less
with seating provided for six personnel. The than 25 knots and wave height of less than The craft was re-launched in June before
skirt is of the open loop and segment design, 600mm (2ft).' being put up for sale by Hoverwork.
with the loop made of PVC and the A member of the project team will be taking
segments from natural rubber coated nylon. (See Page 20 of this issue for more details).
the craft to each location. Once there, he will
Individual segments can be simply unbolted train selected local lifeboat volunteers to 'fly'
to allow replacement and the entire skirt can the craft and carry out a series of trials,
be maintained without lifting the craft. lasting approximately two weeks. The
Control systems comprise six rudders hovercraft will then move onto the next
mounted aft of each propulsion duct location. Once all the tests are complete a
activated by a cord and pulley arrangement, report will be submitted to the RNLI's
and water ballast to adjust fore and aft trim. executive committee in November and a
Four elevators located in each propulsion decision will be made whether to introduce
duct are fitted to supplement fore and aft hovercraft to the RNLI's fleet.
trim. The unladen weight of the Griffon
450TD is 1,450kg, which with a payload of
450kg enables a maximum speed of 30 Hoverwork & Hovertravel
knots in this specification. Maximum
recommended wave height for normal Last year Hovertravel sold its AP1-88
operations is 0.6m. Fuel consumption is 13.5 hovercraft Courier to Cuban aviation and
litres per hour. An important requirement shipping company Aeromar for domestic
specified by the RNLI was the need for operations. The UK operator's sister
environmental sensitivity. It was considered company Hoverwork supplied initial training
essential that the hovercraft had zero impact to the Cuban crews and remains as
on the surfaces over whim it travelled or on technical adviser. The craft (GH-2108) was
the associated wildlife. originally built in Australia by NQEA at
Cairns, Queensland, in 1986, before being
transferred to European operator Real
Craft to be Trialed at Southend Maritima de Cruceros in the Mediterranean
for tourist services between Malaga and
The six-seater craft has been tested over a Ceuta as Benidorm. Hovertravel later
variety of terrains and in different conditions operated Courier on the company's Solent
at RNLI headquarters in Poole Dorset and is services in the UK.
now embarking on a series of trials around
the coast. Experienced volunteer lifeboat Aeromar is developing its network of

July to September 2001 Page 5

or fully variable, hydraulically or
A.S.R.H. Specialist Skirt Technology mechanically adjustable pitch systems.
from Avon Checkmate Maximum power per unit is 3,000kW and
larger-diameter propellers may be easily
The supply of hovercraft skirt material in the disassembled to f acilitate lowe r
UK will not be affected by the withdrawal of transportation costs.
Hoverspeed's two remaining SR.N4
hovercraft from English Channel operations.
The supplier of skirt material to Hoverspeed,
ACT Craft Feature Foam
Avon Flexible Fabrication Division of Avon Sandwich Hulls
Technical Products, had already re-
structured its business in 1997 when the Air Cushion Technologies in the US, a
parent company decided to pull out of builder of small hovercraft that has supplied
specialist product development. The Flexible the US Department of Agriculture and
Fabrications Division was sold to Department of Fish & Wildlife with
Checkmate, another British company amphibious machines, is offering a range of
producing flexible material industrial designs featuring, it says, an innovative hull
products that was already involved in and skirt system design.
The Cumbrian Branch of ASRH took delivery hovercraft and industrial air cushion
of their £20,000 Osprey 5 standard Rescue systems. The designer reports that the craft have
Hovercraft at Grange-over-Sands, as seen in been developed and proven through
the photo above. Although Hoverspeed had latterly thousands of hours of rugged field use by
manufactured much of its own skirt government agencies. The platform is
This is the first full-time dedicated Hovercraft component requirements using Avon designed for ease of operation and
available to the emergency services, with the
materials, the technical contribution by Avon manoeuvrability. Hulls are constructed of a
craft working in the Morecambe Bay area.
had significantly improved the service life tough and lightweight composite sandwich of
A second Osprey 5 is now ready for delivery and performance of Hoverspeed's skirts. high density foam and fibreglass and the
to the Gosport area for similar tasks. Good From its new factory in Wiltshire, Avon bow profile is curved to prevent 'plough in'.
luck to the team up there in Cumbria. Checkmate continues to develop hovercraft The skirt is of a three-chamber type which is
skirts and supplies hovercraft manufacturers designed to prevent snagging and reduce
The website address for ASRH has been including Griffon and Slingsby. The company spray. The skirt material is reinforced to
changed to one a lot easier to remember: also supplies UK domestic operator prevent slash and tear and virtually Hovertravel and a number of operators of eliminating maintenance, says ACT.
surface effect ships throughout the world. Individual skirt bags may be differentially
dumped of air to facilitate turning or
With its former parent company no longer stopping. The craft use a single power
supplying skirt materials for fabrication, Avon source for both lift and thrust.
Checkmate sources supplies from Northern
Rubber, another company with extensive The smallest craft in the range is the 15kW
Develops New Design experience of hovercraft skirt design and (20hp) 4.5m-long Seal with capacity for two
manufacture. people. The largest is the 440kW (600hp)
The UK-based organisation that operates 10.5m Tourister which can carry 22
hovercraft for emergency relief and to passengers. Quoted prices range from US
promote economic development in remote
Hoffmann Propellers Have $13,000 to US$250,000. Air Cushion
regions overseas, HoverAid, is developing a Low-Noise Characteristics Technologies will also build cargo craft and
new hovercraft design designated the ferry versions with capacity for 80
'HoverLorry'. Currently at the design stage, The German manufacturer of aviation and passengers.
the new craft will be built as soon as funding hovercraft propellers, Hoffmann, continues
allows. its development and supply of a range of
propellers for installation on air cushion
Light Craft on Jobs
Drawing on 25 years of hovercraft vehicles.
experience including expeditions to Nepal, A Skima 4 has been sold to Mistley Marine &
Irian Jaya, Peru, China and Tibet, HoverAid Leisure Ltd for occasional survey work on
The company designs and produces
works with other agencies and partners. The the River Stour and for use by their transport
hovercraft propellers in three, four, and five-
organisation has been providing hovercraft and construction department.
blade versions. Hoffmann has developed its
and operation expertise since 1992 to many own composite wood material for propeller
countries including Papua New Guinea, Associated British Ports recently used two
blade construction which is suitable for step
Nicaragua, Zambia, Zimbabwe and light hovercraft for surveying the mudflats of
stream, ducted and non-ducted installations.
Mozambique. A key element is HoverAid's Southampton Water.
Several key advantages of this construction
ability to 'go in cold' with hovercraft to assist method are cited by the company including
in disaster relief as in, for example, the Zenika recently surveyed Hampshire & Kent
the fact that as each propeller blade is
Mozambique floods last year. HoverAid's mud flats for the Environment Agency using
individually manufactured there is no
amphibious fleet numbers five of its own- their Skima 4. Meanwhile Northwest Water
requirement for complex and expensive
design River Rovers and two RTK-4 used their own Skima 4 to survey Northern
moulds or castings. Additionally the use of
hovercraft recently acquired from the British mud flats.
wood composite material allows extremely
Antarctic Survey. low weight for each component. Blades can
A Skima 12 has been used on recent crew
One of the River Rovers is currently being be coated with Irathene lacquer which
ferrying on mud flats in Germany, working
refurbished and will be used primarily for guarantees excellent protection against
alongside two Griffons recently purchased.
training purposes. A second River Rover has erosion. Its hovercraft propeller systems also
The Pindair 12-seater was one of the Sultan
been fitted with an experimental extended return extremely low noise levels
of Oman’s fleet and until recently was used
skirt system and will undergo trials this year. comparable to an equivalent low-noise twin-
in Sweden.
An eight-seat River Rover is being prepared diesel-engine boat, says Hoffmann.
for deployment in the flooded areas of Light hovercraft are to be used on mud flats
Malawi where the hovercraft will be able to Hoffmann designs and produces hovercraft
at Runcorn as bridge construction / repair
transport personnel and relief supplies to propellers in three, four, and five blade
work takes place. The craft will be used as a
locations beyond the reach of boats and at a versions. Propeller blades are produced up
safety boat for up to six months.
to 6m in diameter and may be fitted with
fraction of the cost of helicopters.
fixed pitch blades, ground adjustable blades

July to September 2001 Page 6

Obituaries - Les Colquhoun & Tony Riley
Les Colquhoun returned home for Mosquito operational Tony Riley
training and in 1943 he joined No 682, a
Reconnaissance pilot whose Mosquito photographic-reconnaissance
Hovercraft Enthusiast &
photographs of Axis positions squadron based in Algeria and operating Engineer
was vital to Allied successes in over Tunisia and Italy, moving to San Severo
in Italy in September 1943. Life member Tony passed away in July after
Southern Europe losing his battle against cancer. Tony was an
He remained with 682 avid member of the Hoverclub, having been
squadron until October involved with many craft, not least being the
has died aged 80, was a
1944, during which time Cushioncraft CC.7 which he re-engined with
p h o t o g r a p h i c
he flew 82 operational Jaguar engine, and used on the River
reconnaissance pilot with
trips over enemy territory Severn.
No 69 squadron whose
daring coverage of Axis Involving 262 hours of
positions in southern Italy operational flying. He was
and Libya contributed awarded the DFC for his
significantly to the survival photographic contribution
of Malta; his contribution to to the successful
the preparations for the conclusion of the North
1944 landings in the south Af rican and Italian
of France was recognised campaigns and his part in
with the award of the DFC. the preparation for the
landings in the south of
In 1941, Colquhoun had France during the summer
being flying fighter sweeps of 1944.
over northern France with
No 603 (City of Edinburgh) Auxiliary Air In 1945, after a short period as an instructor, Tony lived in Chepstow and was a keen
Force squadron when he was detailed to Colquhoun was posted to Vickers supported of the Hovercraft Museum from its
deliver a photographic reconnaissance Supermarine where he joined the team of beginnings. Tony’s CC.7 went to the
Spitfire to Cairo. During a stopover in Malta it production test pilots. Here he tested the Museum of Army Transport at Beverly in
became apparent that the situation there later marks of Spitfires as they rolled off the Yorkshire, and is now to be seen in smart
was desperate. He and his Spitfire were production lines. He also displayed a special Army 200 Hovercraft Squadron livery. This is
seconded to No 69 Squadron and so hard aptitude for putting new types through their the sister craft to the Museum’s own CC.7
pressed were the island's defenders that for paces, particularly the Attacker, an early which is in Navy livery.
a while the squadron comprised only carrier-borne naval jet fighter.
Colquhoun and one other pilot.
In May 1950, he was flying an Attacker when
For nine months during 1941 and 1942, the outer tip of his starboard wing folded up.
Colquhoun piloted an unarmed and The ailerons locked and Colquhoun began to
unescorted pale blue Spitfire out of Malta; lose control of the plane. Coolly declining to
flying over Italy and assessing the enemy's eject, he stayed put in the hope of
position. Travelling at great speed and using discovering the cause of the fault.
considerable guile, he would continuously
outmanoeuvre the enemy before landing Flying by rudder alone, he managed to bring
back at Luqa with his anxiously awaited the speed up to more than 200 mph.
photographs. Although this was about twice the Attacker's
landing speed, he was able to land at
Not until May 1942 was the squadron Chilbolton, Hampshire's 1,800yd runway,
reinforced by Spitfires transported in the with the length of a cricket pitch to spare. By Tony restored a ‘basket case’ Winfield
aircraft carrier Eagle. By then, Colquhoun putting his life on the line, Colquhoun, as the fairground hovercraft from the 1970s Jersey
had survived 154 operational sorties, each of subsequent investigation revealed, had Hoverdrome to fully working order and it has
which had been flown mostly over the sea, a enabled the fault to be identified. been a great source of amusement to many
risky business in a single-engine Spitfire. at the three Hovershows at which it has
Colquhoun's career progressed through been displayed. The Hatton & Bass machine
Wing Commander Laddie Lucas, the ace testing naval Scimitar jet fighters and early is in great condition, especially hard to
commander of No 249 Squadron summed hovercraft - which assured him control, in believe looking at pictures of it in Tony’s
up the value of Colquhoun's contribution 1962, of the first hovercraft service between back garden.
when he noted: Wallasey and Rhyl.
"At Luqa, in the face of adversity,
photographic reconnaissance was touching He was appointed operations manager of
the limits of human endeavour. It placed the Hoverlloyd in 1966, later becoming
highest premium upon personal character managing director and operating the
and integrity." Sergeant Colquhoun was company's car ferry between Ramsgate and
awarded the DFM and commissioned. Calais. After Seaspeed took over Hoverlloyd,
Colquhoun ran the company's jetfoil service
Leslie Robert Colquhoun was born on March to Dieppe.
15 1921, at Hanwell, Middlesex, and was
educated in Ealing. He enlisted in August After a period spent as custodian at
1940, trained as a pilot, and in the autumn of Chiddingstone Castle, Colquhoun retired to
1941 was posted to No 603 (City of Broadstairs, Kent. He was a great supporter
Edinburgh), an Auxiliary Air Force Spitfire of the Spitfire society of which he was a
former chairman. Thank you Tony for all your help and
squadron engaged on sweeps over France
enthusiasm. Tony’s funeral was held on
and convoy protection patrols.
He is survived by his wife Katie, whom he Friday 4th August in Wales. Our sincere
married in 1946, and by their four daughters. condolences go to Hazel and family.
Following his exploits in Malta, Colquhoun

July to September 2001 Page 7

Activity Increases for Military Applications
(by Paul Hynds of Speed at Sea)

Military advantages of amphibious hovercraft

technology have been widely promoted over
the past four decades but have yet to be
taken up on a global scale. Other than the
massive and continuing financial
commitment by the US to develop a fleet of
air cushion landing craft, there has been only
sporadic interest by other forces. That
situation is likely to improve as more
countries are now looking closely at
hovercraft for deployment in assault, search
and rescue, and logistics support roles.

Russian Craft
The former Soviet Union committed
significant economic resources to high
speed marine technology research,
particularly hydrofoils, amphibious hovercraft
and WIG vessels. Soviet forces had
operated a range of amphibious hovercraft
designs, including Gus, Aist, Lebed and
Pormornik (their NATO designations), in One of the Zubr class hovercraft recently rebuilt by Almaz Shipbuilding for Greece
varying mission profiles. That technology is
now attracting attention and providing export
potential for Russia and the CIS. support equipment. Additionally the craft, the gross weights are very different with the
then given the NATO designation Pormornik, Zubr returning 550 tonnes against 285
Almaz Shipbuilding Company yard in St is equipped to provide supporting fire and for tonnes for the SR.N4 Mk III. This is partly
Petersburg, Russia, and the Feodosia laying minefields. Typical capacity is for 360 explained by the extra strengthening of the
Shipbuilding Association Morye yard in the troops or 10 armoured personnel carriers or Zubr vehicle deck to accommodate tanks
Ukraine are each supplying a pair of Zubr three tanks. Typical weapons outfitting and other heavy vehicles, and by the
class military hovercraft to the Ministry of includes two turret-mounted 30mm provision of armour plating. The Zubr's load
Defence in Greece. The first of these craft, automatic machine guns on the forward bearing main structure is enhanced by two
Kefallinia, has been delivered with the upper hull structure, four portable anti- longitudinal bulkheads dividing the vehicle
remaining three craft due in service later this aircraft missile packs, and a pair of 140mm deck into three zones. Hydraulically
year. Kefallinia was originally constructed in MS 227 missile launching stations. Mine- operated integral bow and stem loading
1993 and has been extensively refurbished laying racks of up to 80 mines can be ramps are fitted.
and upgraded by Almaz, as are the two craft installed depending on the particular mission
from Morye in Feodosia. The fourth craft is a requirements. The Zubr is powered by five GTD 8000 gas
new building under construction at the Almaz turbines each developing 5,890 kW. Two of
facility. The total value of the four craft The dimensions of the Zubr are similar to the these units each drive a pair of NO-10-type
contracts is around US$200 million. BHC SR.N4 Mk III amphibious hovercraft 2.5m-diameter lift fans feeding a peripheral
formerly in commercial service on the bag and finger skirt. Three 5.5m diameter
The Zubr class hovercraft was originally English Channel with Hoverspeed. The four-bladed ducted propellers with variable
developed as for beach landing of advance Zubr's length overall is 57.3m and the beam pitch are mounted aft, driven by the
assault troops, armoured vehicles and is 25.6m (compared to the SR.N4 Mk Ill's remaining three power units. Two auxiliary
56.4m length and 27.9m breadth). However gas turbines each power an electrical
generator rated at 100kW.

The Zubr is remotely steered from a centrally

located island control cabin by rudders
mounted aft of the propulsion ducts,
differential pitch control of the propellers,
and by venting of the air cushion through exit
ducts located on each side of the outer
surfaces of the hull structure fore and aft.
Capable of lifting a payload of 150 tonnes
(approximately 40 tonnes more than the
SR.N4 Mk III hovercraft) the Zubr has a
maximum speed of 60 knots. Normal
cruising range is 300 nautical miles with a
mission endurance of five days.

US Navy LCAC Fleet

In the US, the scale of the belief in the
potential of military hovercraft can be
measured by the amount of funding
approved to develop the Landing Craft Air
Cushion (LCAC) programme for the US
Navy following several development projects
Another Zubr class hovercraft hull being rebuilt at Almaz Shipbuilding in St Petersburg (Ian Maw) and prototype craft trials between 1977 and

July to September 2001 Page 8

In 1998 a service life-extension programme
was initiated that will increase the
operational life of the LCAC fleet by 30
years. As part of this programme the US
Navy's stock of over 400 TF-40 gas turbines
are being upgraded to the improved
specification. Directional control is
maintained by a pair of rudder vanes
mounted behind each ducted propeller unit
and remotely operated from the wheelhouse
located on the starboard side of the welldeck
forward. The rudders are augmented by a
directional venting port mounted each side of
the well-deck just forward of the midship

The rubberised and reinforced fabric skirt is

of the parallel bag and finger type, with an
increased chord at the bow beneath the well-
deck loading ramp. As part of the service
life-extension programme, the US Navy has
conducted extensive research into skirt
performance and reliability. Part of this
evaluation included testing skirt design
The US Navy’s LCAC is designed to operate from shore bases of from the welldecks of amphibious assault ships
enhancements at GKN Westland on the Isle
of Wight in the UK, where test results
1981. Six LCACs were delivered from the suspension of operations due to high wind indicated a significant improvements in the
Textron Marine & Land Systems yard in New speeds and sea state. It was concluded that area of rough water resistance. According to
Orleans by 1986. Funding approval was some design changes would be necessary us Naval Sea Systems Command sources,
granted in 1987 to increase the Navy's fleet before the LCAC could be determined the continuing development of skirt
to 33 LCACs. This was supplemented in operationally effective in arctic theatre technology is crucial to the prospect of future
1989 with approval for a further 15 craft, and conditions. In subsequent below-zero tests, generation of heavy-lift hovercraft.
again by an additional 36 LCACs funded including at least two arctic exercises, the
between 1990 and 1992. Estimates in 1990 LCAC demonstrated a capability to travel The LCAC is designed to operate from shore
priced each craft at US$25 million. Fifteen over ice although severe icing would cause bases or from the welldecks of support ships
of the craft were constructed by Avondale suspension of the mission until cleared. or amphibious assault ships. The craft has
Industries, also of New Orleans. been evaluated in this role by the Royal
The LCAC was developed to provide the US Australian Navy, and by the Japanese
A key justification in securing finance for the Navy with a landing craft to carry troops, Maritime Self Defense Force. Japan has a
LCAC was research indicating that tanks, artillery, and combat support requirement for a minimum of eight LCACs
conventional landing vessels had a typical equipment and to deliver a high speed, over to operate from a fleet of four LST 4000
beach approach speed of less than 8 knots the beach capability. The well-deck craft class ships. The first of these, the 22-knot
travelling approximately 2 miles from support measures 26.4m length overall with a beam 14,700-tonne Ohsumi was launched in 1998
vessels. Additionally estimates revealed that of 14.3m. The 87-tonne craft can carry a and has now entered operational service.
only 17 per cent of the world's beaches were normal operational payload of 60 tonnes and Originally the order to build the Japanese
accessible to the US Navy's existing landing an extreme condition overload of 75 tonnes. Maritime Self Defense Force LCAC fleet was
craft fleet. The LCAC is capable of landing Range is 300 nautical miles at 35 knots with expected to be awarded to a Japanese yard,
on 80% of the world's beaches and can full payload, or 200 nautical miles at 40 with Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding
make a surprise-beyond the horizon-assault knots. Company the probable favourite to win the
from 50 miles. contract, but the initial batch of craft are
Main machinery comprises four Avco- being supplied from the US.
The design was put to operational Lycoming TF-40B gas turbines. Two engines
examination in the role of equipment and power a pair of
vehicle delivery to the beach during 3.85m-diameter
Operation Desert Shield and Operation Dowty Rotol
Desert Storm in the Gulf conflict in the ducted four-
Middle East during 1990-1991. Later in b l a d e d
Operation Sea Angel in Bangladesh in 1991 propellers with
and operation Restore Hope in Somalia in reversible pitch.
1992 there were opportunities to The remaining
demonstrate the LCAC's effectiveness by two gas turbines
successfully delivering several thousand each drive a set
tonnes of relief aid to homeless and starving of twin double-
populations. Following an assessment of entry centrifugal
these operations the US Navy ordered a lift fans. In 1997
further seven LCAC hovercraft in 1993. One AlliedSignal
operational area that showed up several rele ase d an
shortcomings of the LCAC was an arctic e n h a n c e d
environment test conducted in Alaska in version of the
1992. TF-40 gas
t u r b i n e
These trials quickly established that the developing over
LCAC was not suitable, as it was then 3,900kW and
configured, to sustain reliable arctic returning a 7
operations. A key problem was related to per cent
transmission torque limitations in cold improvement in
weather. Other problems included severe specific fuel
icing of structure and machinery; and consumption.

July to September 2001 Page 9

More Military News
(from Speed at Sea) system, and some hull and fuel system Recent rumours and reports from Russia
modifications developed to improve trim and seem to confirm that most, if not all, of the
Textron Wins LCAC New damage stability characteristics. The order Russian Navy’s old Aist class hovercraft
Building & Life Extension just placed is the first SLEP production have been scrapped. The SR.N4-size giants,
contract, addressing the first three craft only; of which 24 were built in various
Orders before it was placed, these initial design configurations, have been recycled, as the
changes were developed, incorporated and armoured craft contained a lot of metal –
New Orleans-based Textron Marine & Land
tested on craft 91, delivered to the US Navy certainly more than the SR.N4 does.
Systems (TM&LS) has been awarded two
in March this year.
major Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC)
contracts: Yamada International Corporation
Under SLEP, Atlanta-based Vericor Power
in Japan has placed an order worth over US
Systems has begun upgrading the TF40B
$91 million for two LCAC new buildings, and
aero derivative marine gas turbines that are
a contract from the US Navy valued at
the LCAC power plant. The TF40B is an
around US$35 million addresses its LCAC
engine manufactured exclusively for LCAC
service life extension programme.
programs, and more than 400 of these units
have been delivered for this purpose,
The LCAC is a 28.8m high-speed
logging more than 300,000 hours.
amphibious vehicle that can travel at over 40
knots and carry a 61-76 tonne payload. Its
As part of this program, TF40B engines will
amphibious capability allows the LCAC to
be upgraded to the Enhanced TF40B
reach more than 70 per cent of the world's
configuration to be known as the ETF40B,
coastline, compared with 15 per cent for
which will generate in excess of 15 per cent
conventional landing craft, TM&LS says. The
more power at Maximum Intermittent Power,
company adds that since the LCAC was first
while requiring only minor changes to the
introduced in 1984, the craft has broadened
current installation, Vericor Power Systems
its basic role of transporting equipment and
says. The maximum output for the ETF40B
has become a multi-mission vehicle, suitable
is 4,745hp at an ambient temperature of The Zubr (Pormornik) fleet has also been
for tasks including mine-hunting and
100°F (3,490kW at 38°C). Also, the ETF40B reduced, with refurbished craft being sold to
sweeping, troop carrier, medical evacuation
will offer improved fuel efficiency with Greece, and others being cannibalised for
and humanitarian support during civil
significantly reduced maintenance efforts, spares and components.
the company adds. Details of the engine
upgrade will be included in a feature on gas A drive on the sale of Aist craft failed to sell
Altogether, Yamada has now ordered six any, and a similar drive is now underway for
turbines in a future issue.
LCACs for the Japan Defence Agency. The the giant Bora class SES, but interest is
first two were delivered in 1997; the third and minimal. Sources suggest that these too will
fourth are scheduled for handover at the end be scrapped in due course.
of this year and early 2002; and the pair of Aker Finnyards T2000
craft just ordered will be delivered in the
second half of 2002. The contract includes Yaroslavsky Offers Diverse
spares and other support services. Portfolio
The goal of the US Navy's LCAC service life The evolution of amphibious hovercraft
extension program (SLEP) is to extend the continues at the Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding
useful life, reduce operating costs and Plant in Russia, whose output includes the
improve performance of 74 fleet LCACs. 12m Chilim design. The yard has been
SLEP entails modifications for extending the Newbuilding No. 432, the Fast Multipurpose building air cushion vehicles since 1981 and
service life of the craft from 20 to 30 years. Hovercraft is 27.40m long, by 15.40m wide constructed 22 hovercraft up until 1989.
with a skirt height of 2.10m and a weight of These craft were used in remote regions
Changes include incorporation of main 84 tons. Crew of ten and speed estimated at where accessibility to road vehicles was
engine upgrades, installation of a new skirt 50 knots. Delivery is later this year. limited by swamps and ice. Derivatives were
also used as ground recovery vehicles
during the Russian space programme. The
yard is now offering several hovercraft types
designed by the Almaz Central Marine
Design Bureau, and projects include the
Kharza, an 18m coastal patrol craft with a
payload of 4 tonnes and a range of 400
nautical miles at speeds up to 45 knots.
A small passenger craft (Project 12270) has
capacity for 50 people at 40 knots service
speed. The craft is intended for passenger
charter, geological prospecting and drilling
support operations. The Bobyor is a 30m
cargo hovercraft capable of transporting a
payload of 50 tonnes including tracked
vehicles. Alternatively the Bobyor can be
fitted with removable modules to provide
passenger accommodation or mobile
hospital facilities. A larger version, the Kalan,
is designed for open sea operations in sea
state 4 up to 50 nautical miles from refuge.
This design can also be fitted with four 24-
seat passenger modules or a combination of
passenger and cargo spaces.
July to September 2001 Page 10
Hovercraft Museum News
The Transhover T.6 is the latest project for Good progress has been made on the Lee- hovercraft in the Museum Trust’s collection.
Paul Hiseman & Dave Beard of the Museum on-the-Solent site development plans as
Trust to undertake. agreed by the Trustees. To this end, Project Managers have been
invited to accept positions as follows:
The six-seater was given to the Trust by These have included the mundane tasks of
keeping the Lecture Theatre, office and SR.N5 Chris Verrinder
Insurers after a road accident where the craft SR.N6 Mk.5 Mick Wells
literally fell off the back of a lorry ! The kitchen areas clean and tidy. A sincere debt
is owed to Jeanette, who undertakes these SR.N4 Swift Paul Hiseman
engine is to be re-aligned, and Lucas Black, The first task is to survey these hovercraft to
propeller expert, is to repair the damaged tasks and also helps with secretarial duties.
A great deal of weeding has been done to assess what work is needed, initially to
props. prevent further deterioration and then to
the outside areas in preparation for the Open
Day on 13 October, thanks to Ben Pratt, refurbishment activities.
Terry Watson and Dave Owens.
SR.N5 (006)
The BP travelling hovercraft exhibition has
This is currently stored at the Barn at
been moved from the hangar into an area for
Portchester and is unlikely to deteriorate, as
refurbishment. It is hoped to have at least
it is undercover. The Trustees have agreed
two units back in the lecture Theatre by
that the survey should cover the necessary
Open Day.
work to get the craft suitable for static
At the recent Trustees meeting, approval display.
has been given to installing shelving in one
of the upstairs rooms in the hangar, for the SR.N6 Mk.5 (003) Welldeck
storage of large models. Tables have been
moved, models cleared, prior to the wall
being painted and shelving installed.
Shown in the picture above, taken at
All these activities are being carried out by
Hovershow 2001, are from left to right:
volunteers, who would welcome involvement
Ian Butler—director of TransHover, based
from others. Please contact the Site
originally in Wimbourne, Dorset,
Manager if you can help.
Mervyn Davies of Hovercraft Rides Ltd,
Cambourne, Cornwall—last owner of the
T.6, and, Visits
Andy Goudge, latest designer of the new The Museum has hosted a number of visits,
Storm Hovercraft of Wimbourne in Dorset. including individuals from Australia, Austria
and the USA. Others involving in excess of
thirty and forty people have been hosted A preliminary survey has identified the work
Recently the Hovercraft Museum Trust from Poole and Bitterne and Woolston
provided exciting footage of the 1970s Bell immediately required which will be carried
Rotary Clubs and the Fareham Model out on a week-by-week basis.
Buffalo aircraft which featured a hovercraft Engineering Society, respectively. Both
undercarriage. This was for a new Café these visits resulted in donations and shop
Productions Ltd film on flying machines for
SR.N4 Mk.2 (002) Swift
the Discovery Channel featuring the new
airship which uses ACV technology 30 years A very recent visit was from the Alverstoke
on. The programme is due for broadcast St Mary’s Men’s Breakfast Group, who
next Spring. enjoyed a simple breakfast and an illustrated
talk by the Site Manager. This demonstrated
that it is possible to lay on simple meals for
BAe Links with War Museum groups of visitors.
(from The Times 1st August 2001) These visits raise the profile of the Museum,
raise funds by way of donations and shop
BAe Systems will today announce that it has sales and sometimes result in further visits
linked with the Imperial War Museum to fund or help with other Museum activities.
a £19 million exhibition centre celebrating
Britain’s aviation heritage. The centre, called If you are a member of an organisation that
The Air Space, will be built at Duxford near would like a hosted visit to the Museum, or The priority task is to remove the forward
Cambridge, underpinned by a grant for £9 know of one who would, please get in touch blower used to lift / move the craft and
million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is with the Site Manager. ballast items used to trim the craft when it
due to open in 2005. BAe Systems is hovered at Hovershow 2001.
committing £5 million to the project over five Hovercraft Refurbishment
years. The immediate problem is water ingress via
The coming months are going to see the roof. To alleviate this, the craft will be
Frank Crosby, Duxford’s head of marketing, significant work carried out on some of the raised on blocks to facilitate run-off and the
said: “Young people are not going in to roof air condition vents removed and blanks
engineering, and companies—and the placed over the feed holes. Preparations will
RAF—are finding it hard to recruit people. be made so that these actions can be
This is seen as an investment aimed at completed soon after the Open Day on 13
encouraging the engineers of the future.” October.
All these tasks require teams to carry them
Duxford is already the UK’s most visited
out, so if you can give time / support, please
aviation heritage site, with more than
let me know - details on the inside cover.
400,000 visitors a year. The new exhibition
centre will document nearly 100 years of UK
Brian J Russell
aviation, using Duxford’s collection of British
Hovercraft Museum Site
civil and military aircraft.

July to September 2001 Page 11

HM.2 Parts Donation & Lifting on to Dry Land
(by Warwick Jacobs & Chris Potter) The craft was then stored until 1999, when preparations to allow the crane in to the site,
Green Marine Donate HM.2 Parts the hardstanding was again required by the it was rigged at the water’s edge. With some
owners, and the craft was craned back in to adjustments to the slings after attachment,
Recently the Museum Trust acquired some the water free of charge, ending 13 years of the crane gently pulled upwards, expecting
HM.2 sidewall spares from Green Marine Vosper’s free storage and security. the HM.2 to lift out of the mud, but it barely
who occupy the old Hovermarine factory at The craft was towed around Portsmouth budged. The crane was rated to take 10-tons
W oolston, Southampton. This Harbour to a mooring at Wicor, and in 2000 at the jib length and angle it was rigged at,
incidentally was once part of BHC when but the reading in the crane driver’s
BH.7s were built, and earlier Vickers, cab steadily increased to 12, 14, 16
where the VA.1, VA.2 and VA.3 ran from and finally 18½ tons before the craft
and the SR.N1 visited. Griffon moved—the crane tipping on its
Hovercraft, just up the road, also used outriggers due to the load ! It was
the site. concluded that the craft must still
contain some water despite having
Many pictures and components of pumped it out...
hovercraft were found as Green Marine
cleared out corners of the old Spitfire It was then decided that the best
Quay building as they expand, including course of action was to slide the craft
lots of dials, two pilot seats and all sorts further in towards the shore on boards,
of spares for the HM.2 craft as well as a so several of the helpers present got
lot of 16mm film. Also retrieved from the dirty by sliding the planks of wood
company were the HM.2 model under the hull as the crane gently lifted
moulds – so a die cast or resin model the stern clear of the mud. This did the
could be made for future sale. job, and shortly afterwards, the crane
was able to lift the craft up and over
On Sunday 19th August a team of friends the craft began to take on water. Even the fence and deposit it in the field next to
helped pump out HM.2 017 and pull her fully though measures were taken to keep her the barn—water pouring from several small
ashore on the highest tides ready for a crane pumped out, she was eventually beached to cracks in the hull.
lift in to a position next to the barn. The 18ft prevent her sinking, and then neglected
wide craft was moved courtesy of Barry somewhat, despite actions being appointed After moving and re-rigging the crane,
Hollaway’s 10-ton HIAB lorry, which pulled to individuals. The craft was then too several items such as BH.7 stands and other
her on front and stern lines – finishing at accessible on the shoreline, and she was bits and pieces were moved with the crane
12:15am on a 4.8m tide. vandalised with windows being the first thing to allow room for the HM.2 in front of the
to be smashed. These were replaced with barn. The craft was again lifted and gently
The Trust is well aware that the sidewall unbreakable polycarbonate, but despite deposited on the four stands designed to
hovercraft accounts for half of all sales and these measures, by May 2001 she had been hold these craft. However, the hull was not
builds to date and needs to be shown in the systematically attacked by local vandals with up to the stress, and after a few minutes the
Trust’s collection. Our other two sidewalls all windows, dials and loose parts stripped decision was taken that it would be prudent
are Osprey’s Esperance and Hovermarine’s and thrown overboard – some of which was safer to put the craft on the ground.
Decider concept model – a military SES recovered by Trustee Warwick Jacobs, by With this done, and the craft in position, the
design, funded by the Government to the wading out in to the soft black mud. fences were replaced and the site tidied up
tune of £1 million and now just a model in With the hull essentially complete, the Trust after all the work. The crane was packed and
our Wicor store. went away, with Baldwins only
charging us £1,000 for the lift—a
considerable reduction on their initial
HM.2…Saved Again ? quote.
The HM.2 was the second ever donation
Thanks to all down at the Barn on that
to the Trust in 1987 after the SR.N5 in
day; Bob McLaren, Dave Owens, Dave
1986. Our only full-size sidewall craft,
& Pat Ingham, Lucas Black, Lyndon
donated by Hovermarine and its
Ford, Warwick Jacobs, Alan Burns,
receivers, an original HM.216 16m craft.
Chris Potter and to Baldwins for their
The craft was kept at Hovermarine for a
few years, and moved courtesy of
Griffon and Aluminium Shipbuilders in
Seats & trim are in store at the
1987 to berth at Vosper's pier hardway,
Portchester barn and Lee, together
free of charge until 1991. Vosper’s
with the recovered materials from the
mooring lines pulled her under the pier
mud, so all is not lost. Cockpit dials are
and caused a partial sinking, so the craft
available, saved by Don Bennett, and
was recovered and pulled ashore, only
of course we also now have extra
to have vandals smash the windows etc.
looked at its options, and decided that the items from Green Marine as reported
craft should be saved again. With windows elsewhere.
Repairs to the windows, costing £700, were
and other fittings, the hull could be made
carried out, and the craft was towed to
sound again. The Trust was initially quoted Two other HM.2 craft are in use as
Vosper’s Portchester yard to a water berth in
£3,700 to lift her out of the water, as a large houseboats (value of the craft as a
the inner basin. Here the engine was
crane would be required in order to reach houseboat is approximately £20,000), and
removed and scrapped. In 1995, Marsh
the craft from the shoreline. We were then there is also an HM.221 craft in store at
Cranes at a cost of £700, lifted the craft out
offered a special rate of £2,000 by Baldwins Southampton (new in 1996) and up for sale
of the water for repairs, as scaffold poles in
Crane Hire and we pursued a grant of £500 at £180,000.
the mud had ruptured the hull. £2,000 was
and a £500 donation from various sources.
paid to Parker Plastics to systematically
No news has surfaced yet of the fate of the
repair the hull care of retired Les Spriggs
On a very hot Saturday 8th September, 30 or so HM.2 craft tied up in Hong Kong –
who also donated drive shafts, propellers,
Baldwins arrived on site at 8am with a 100- although it is thought that some may be
skirt fingers, radar and more bearings etc.
ton Liebherr crane, and after making some being used in China.

July to September 2001 Page 12

Bob Rennick Visits the US Army Transportation Museum
This past February I had the opportunity to One of the three Bell Aerosystems SK.5 craft built, based on the SR.N5, and similar to the craft in the Museum
pay a visit to the US Army transportation
Museum located just inside the grounds of
Fort Eustis, Virginia. The Fort is just off
Interstate 64 in the Hampton Roads /
Newport News area of Virginia.
What brought me here were two very
different - yet similar machines that I've
always wanted to see. What kept me there -
and will probably bring me back - is yet
another surprise machine or two!
First, what brought me there: Back in 1952
the cold war was quite active and there was
a thriving aviation industry in Canada
centered around AVRO Aircraft of Malton,
Ontario – just north of Toronto. At that time a
bright AVRO engineer conceived an aircraft
that would use the 'Coanda effect' (a method
of focusing a column of air) and have the
ability to not only hover and manoeuvre as a
helicopter, but also accelerate through the
sound barrier. Of course, the US military was
extremely interested in such a vehicle and
so in 1958 let a contract to AVRO for the
construction of a prototype.
The 'Flying Saucer' (as it became to be
known) was powered by 3 J69 Turbojets
flight was made in May 1961. engine and seated up to four on its centrally
located bench seat. The resemblance to an
As things turned out, the stability problems automobile of the era is obvious. This
of the Coanda Effect were never ironed out vehicle was a real surprise find. It is in
and the 'Flying Saucer' never left ground excellent condition and if only I could have
effect. I suppose, this makes it the World's the chance to try it out! ! It certainly showed
First successful hovercraft - rather than how far ACV development has come over
flying saucer! ! In 1963 the project funding the years! Anyone who has seen the early
was cancelled and the vehicle was films of this vehicle in operation will simply
transferred to the Museum in Virginia. love to see it first hand !
Unfortunately, during my visit to the museum
the AVRO-CAR was off being refurbished. Situated right beside the air car was another
This has thus predetermined my destiny to vehicle that I remembered from the plastic
make another visit! modelling days of my youth - the Piasecki Air
Jeep. This remarkable device did fly free of
I also knew of another vehicle present at the ground effect. It was available as a plastic
museum – the last of the three that were model (re-issued recently) and kept my
made by Bell Aerosystems of Buffalo, New attention at an early age. I'm not sure why
York. These were the SK-5 military more weren't produced as from all accounts
hovercraft used by the US Army during the that I've read, it was quite successful.
whose exhaust was directed to the tips of a war in South Vietnam. Of the three craft
centrally mounted axial fan. The air from this constructed, one was blown up during the
Another device that has yet to earn a display
fan was distributed around the periphery of conflict, one was left behind in Vietnam (and
spot is a rocket belt. They hope to have this
the vehicle and louvers redirected the thrust its whereabouts is unknown) and the last
on display in the near future.
for both lift, control and forward motion. example is on display here at the museum.
Capable of carrying two crew members each If you get a chance, drop in on the Museum.
seated in his own cockpit located on either Its design was featured in a 1967 cover story
Admission is free and it is open every day
side of the vehicle. Tethered trials began in in Popular Mechanics. Based heavily on the
9:00 am to 4:30 pm except Monday's and
December 1959 and the first non-tethered design of the British Hovercraft Corporation
US Federal Holidays. Also of note is their
SR.N5 (three of which saw
amply stocked gift shop. You can also check
service with the US Navy
out their web site at http://www.eustis.
during the Vietnam conflict If you're
in 1967) the SK5 used a
interested in other military vehicles, this is
more powerful engine and
the spot! From aircraft to boats to trains to
featured a significant
wheeled vehicles. This is the best collection
amount of armour protection
of military vehicles I've ever seen & well
for the occupants as well as
worth the trip.
purpose- designed gun
Earlier, I alluded to a couple
of surprises at the museum.
One of these was arguably
the first ever 'production' air
cushion vehicle. The Curtis-
Wright Air Car. This
remarkable vehicle was
powered by a helicopter

July to September 2001 Page 13

From the Archives - The Bertin Aerotrain for the UK (!)
Members of both Houses of Parliament have future. In this description, he detailed the constructed this Aerotrain was capable of a
expressed interest in the Bertin Aerotrain, systems used for the control and propulsion maximum speed of 200 km/hr (125 mph),
and recently Mr John Osborn, MP, and Lord of the vehicle together with the development but was subsequently fitted with a rocket
Merrivale travelled on the test vehicle in history to date, and further particulars of the engine, enabling more representative
France, which runs along an experimental advantages envisaged from a use of the speeds to be attained of the order of 300 km/
track four miles in length. Despite the Aerotrain for inter-city travel or for journeys hr. The test vehicle made its first run in 1965
restrictions imposed by the limited length of such as that from airport to city centre where and, with the rocket fitted, attained a
the track, rapid accelerations and rapid ground transportation is essential so as maximum speed of 188 mph in December
decelerations were convincingly not to lose the advantages given by modern last year.
demonstrated, together with a maximum air transport.
speed in excess of 180 mph. Sustained runs In the paper by M Bertin referred to
at these speeds are out of the question at The present Aerotrain vehicle is an previously, mention was made of the place
present, but the chief characteristics could experimental model guided by a concrete that the ACV occupies in the transport
be fully appreciated including the quietness track of inverted "T" shape and was the first spectrum of the present or the near future. In
of the vehicle, the overall smoothness of the air cushion vehicle (ACV) of this kind tested the accompanying diagram, speed of
journey and trouble-free transition from low in the world, in December 1965. This was transport is plotted against specific
to high speed and vice versa. itself preceded by a test programme propulsion power in kW/tonne. It can be
whereby models of various sizes were used seen how pedestrians, wheeled vehicles,
At the time of the Members' visit the Mayor to prove the system; for example, in 1963 a helicopters, aircraft and ACVs fit into this
of Orleans and the City Councillors were scale model was constructed to investigate diagram, varying from 5 kW/t to greater than
also present, as well as the engineer in directional control. The model weighed 25 kg 70 kW/t. One finds that helicopters and
charge of the project. Sufficient knowledge and was 1.7 m in length; it was notable for aircraft do not operate successfully at the
has now been obtained from the its almost frictionless movement and was present time in the 200-300 km/hr "band",
experiments and test runs to enable the also used to examine the practicability of the and also that wheeled traffic is for all
construction of a 20 km track to be central guiding rail, this being designed to practical purposes limited to speeds of about
undertaken in the vicinity of Orleans. This remove one of the problems of the ACV - 200 km/hr.
will enable high speeds to be attained for an travelling at speed over obstacles.
appreciable length of time and, as well as In addition, very considerable increases in
enlarging the operating envelope of installed power are needed for
Aerotrain 01 during trials. This train has been restored & preserved by the Bertin Society
the Aerotrain, will make possible small increases in higher speeds
the trials of a much larger vehicle for trains or road vehicles. The
seating over eighty passengers. ACV speed of 300 km/hr
mentioned seems to be the ideal
The use of the Aerotrain as a for fast transport on routes such
means of speedy inter-city services as, for example, the journey from
and city to airport links had been Paris to Lyon, which by the fastest
referred to by Mr Osborn in the train takes four hours; an
House of Commons in March this Aerotrain operating over the same
year when he spoke of the efforts route would take between seventy
being made by the French to and ninety minutes.
develop this means of transport,
and how it could best be tackled in The Aerotrain Track
this country. The existence of a
British "tracked hovercraft" design The Aerotrain vehicle is intended
was made known some time ago, to travel along a track about 5 m
and a model of this project was in height across normal country,
shown at the Hovershow last year, but this can be varied to suit
but the practical results of this geographical conditions and a
knowledge have yet to be realised subterranean track is possible if
in the UK. the conditions existing make it
necessary and it is economically justifiable.
The question of some form of collaboration This Aerotrain is basically of a light alloy
with the French on the Aerotrain or construction, the cabin seating six For the comfort of passengers at high speed
hovertrain project would seem to be raised, passengers in the front of the vehicle while when turning, centrifugal force generated is
and this was in fact mentioned in debate at the rear part is occupied by the engine kept to a low level and the largest possible
the time. Later this year, after his visit to the compartment. Both lift and guidance are radius of curvature is employed, bearing in
Bertin test track, Mr Osborn asked the provided by two Renault Gordini engines, mind the future velocities which may be
Minister of Technology whether he has each of 50 hp, driving two centrifugal fans. possible with the Aerotrain. At 400 km/hr, for
approved the proposals of the National These feed four guiding and four sustaining example, a centrifugal acceleration of 0.15 9
Research and Development Corporation to air cushions. Propulsion is provided by a 260 is obtained with a radius of 8,600 m.
set up a subsidiary, Tracked Hovercraft Ltd, hp Continental aero-engine fitted with a
to develop a 250 mph hovertrain. The reply reversible-pitch propeller. Air pressure is Where the Aerotrain would have its
given was hardly of a satisfactory nature, as 0.36 psi and the max airflow is 353 cu ft/sec. maximum speed limited to 200 km/hr, the
it spoke of "considering proposals in For braking, three systems are used on the radius for the same acceleration could be
consultation with the Minister of Transport". vehicle: the reverse pitch of the propeller, 2,100 m. It should be emphasised that for
Meanwhile the Bertin Company is brake pads at the rear of the Aerotrain which special reasons, such as the avoidance of
proceeding with its experiments and in the act as disc brakes on the vertical section of obstacles or the proximity of stopping points
near future will be conducting full-scale trials the track, and wooden skis in case of where the speed would necessarily be much
of passenger-carrying services employing suspension failure. lower, a radius of curvature as low as 800 m
this new method of rapid transport. could be considered in these circumstances.
The main dimensions are as follows: length In some cases it may be necessary to alter
Details of the System In a paper read before 32 ft 10 in, width 6 ft 7 in, height 5 ft 3 in, the height of the Aerotrain track and this can
the societe Scientifique du Dauphine in height of propeller axis 8 ft 10 in, diameter of be easily undertaken, to twice the normal
1966, M Jean Bertin gave information about propeller 6 ft 8 in, overall height 12 ft 2 in. stated height.
his company's product and the plans for the The total weight is 5,500 lb. As originally

July to September 2001 Page 14

From the Archives - The World's First Hovercraft Race
The world's first hovercraft race Catalina flying-boat. It was a V-twin wrong steel for the shaft," he says. "But
generator motor which had been used to considering we built the machine for only
took place 37 years ago, in keep batteries charged when the Cat was that one-off race, it performed very well."
Australia's capital city, Canberra. moored in water. We used it through drive
Participants and observers recall shaft and gearbox to the propeller, thereby Only five hovercraft completed the circuit.
giving lift to the propeller pressure tube. The First prize of £100 ($200) was won by a
that historic event, which has beetle-like plenum chamber type vehicle
never before been fully recorded. other engine was a two-cylinder Sunbeam
motor which had been used in motorbikes.” entered by a syndicate of five from New
(By Eric Shackle) South Wales. It was piloted by Allen
The pair finished building their craft just in Hawkins, an engineer from the Sydney
time to tow it to the shores of the lake, where suburb of Sans Souci. Raymond says
they arrived shortly before the race was due Hawkins steered it in the direction he wanted
to begin. When they started the motors, the to go by leaning to that side. Another
craft rose two and a half inches above the plenum chamber craft, built by William Slege
ground, to pass the lift test. and Kevin McCloud, of South Australia,
gained second place.
“Arthur Powell took it out for a test run, and
reached a speed of about 40 miles (64km) Other craft taking part included an entry from
an hour,” says Raymond. “He covered the the Air Cushion Vehicle Development Group,
five-sided course of just over a mile in less and two annular peripheral jet craft, one built
than three minutes. by RAAF personnel at Amberley,
Queensland, the other by Alan Ellis,
“While returning towards our shore base, he electrical engineer at Radio station 2CN,
made a sharp turn, and the craft overturned. Canberra. Raymond recalls that Ellis was a
Nine mostly backyard-built mechanical hares Fortunately, the lake was only partially filled fellow member of the Canberra Aero Club,
and tortoises competed in the world’s first in 1964, and the water was only about a where he was nicknamed LAME, because
hovercraft race in Australia’s capital, metre deep. We quickly righted the craft, he was a Licenced Aircraft Mechanical
Canberra, on March 14, 1964. One of the dragged it out of the water, dried the motors, Engineer.
amphibious hares sank, three had to be and restarted them. We were ready for the
towed ashore, and a tortoise was first to race start. Arthur and I tossed a coin to What became of Powell and Raymond’s
cross the finish line. decide which of us would be the driver, and I speedy machine? They towed it back to
won.” Ainslie, where they dismantled it, took out
The race took place on a cold, windy Sunday
Because those primitive hovercraft were the motors, and destroyed the frame. They
morning, on the city’s new man-made scenic
difficult to steer, race officials set competitors had built their last hovercraft. Raymond
Lake Burley Griffin, then only part-filled The
off one at a time instead of all together, to resumed his favourite pastime: building and
event, one of several celebrations marking
the disappointment of spectators. flying light aircraft.
the 51st anniversary of the naming of
Canberra, was organised by the Canberra Today, at 82, he is probably Australia’s
branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society. oldest licenced pilot. His old friend John
Coggan says: "Roy has built boats, gliders,
Race organisers had received 13 entries,
and powered aircraft. He flies his own plane,
from the Australian Capital Territory, New
a J1 Taylor Cub which he totally rebuilt
South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and
himself. With his son Barry, he flew around
South Australia, but there were four
Australia in it a couple of years ago."
Several other Canberra residents remember
I was there as the Sydney-based public
watching the 1964 race.
relations officer for the sponsor, BP, which
supplied fuel and lubricants for a wide Judy Papps, of Isaacs: "What is most vivid in
variety of motors, ranging from tiny Victa my mind is how funny it was watching the
lawnmower engines to one salvaged from a hovercraft going off in all directions - not
Catalina flying-boat.. necessarily the one the driver intended. My
Entrants were required to make two-way husband, Peter, recalls that Harold Clisby, a
I clearly recall the ear-splitting noise of the
demonstration runs in front of the crowd South Australian inventor, was one of the
motors as they were warming up onshore,
lining the lake’s bank, cover the five-sided competitors."
and the clouds of sand and dust raised by
course, and then return to the finish line at
the downward blasts of air from the Neal Gowen, of Kaleen: "I was 15 and must
the edge of the lake.
machines. have gone to see the race with my dad. As
"On the demonstration run, I steered the far as I can recall, it took place in the bay
The fastest craft was built by two friends,
craft into the wind and opened both (West lake) near the Australian National
Arthur Powell and Roy Raymond, both living
throttles," says Raymond. "The faster the University, and I am sure we were watching
in the Canberra suburb of Ainslie. Powell,
hovercraft moved, the higher it rose from the from Black Mountain peninsula. The lake
who worked as a bricklayer, was also a
water. I was just tipping the tops of the little was not full at that time, and there was still a
skilful woodworker. He built the frame from
waves. I slowed down for the five-sided
1/16-inch aircraft plywood covered with
course, and completed it in two and a half to
several coats of varnish.. Raymond looked
three minutes.
after the engineering.
"But disaster struck on the way back to the
“When we heard the race was to be held, we shore. When I stopped in front of the crowd,
decided to take part,” says Raymond, who the vector drive shaft broke, so I failed to
now lives in Nabiac, a small country town cross the finish line, and we were
288 km (166 miles) north of Sydney. “We disqualified, after achieving the fastest time
built an annular peripheral craft, with a over the main course."
triangular frame for cheapness and speed.”
Thirty-seven years later, Raymond blames
“Two motors were needed, one to give it lift himself for the mishap which cost him the
and the other for forward drive. The vector race. "It was my fault, because I’d used the
motor came from an old World War II

July to September 2001 Page 15

widely used for recreation, racing and
rescue. Pictorial History of Hovercraft
More than three decades of hovercraft
ferries crossing the English Channel ended (by Mike Morton)
on October 1, 2000, when Hoverspeed
completed its conversion to an all-catamaran Geoff Hatton, of England, contacted me
service. recently via E-mail to say that he had
created a web site that might be of interest
The company retired the world's two largest to members. The site contains a brief
hovercraft, the Princess Margaret and the pictorial history of hovercraft constructed by
Princess Anne. For 32 years, the twin himself and a few business associates
Princesses had carried tens of millions of during 1964 to 1976. The old pictures of
land bridge from the main shore to what is passengers between England and France, these vintage hovercraft along with some
now Springbank Island. providing the fastest way to cross the informative verbiage depict the pioneering of
"A lot of dust was blown up (and noise) at Channel on the Dover-Calais route. The hovercraft.
the start as the hovercraft left the shore. The Princess Anne holds the record for the Be sure to check out this site:
event got a little confused after that and I fastest crossing of the English Channel,
travelling the 23 miles (37km) between
recall one craft sinking. There seemed to be
a total lack of control of direction in the other Calais and Dover on September 14, 1995, in
craft. It took forever for the ‘Race’ to finish. only 22 minutes. The Princess Margaret was
Unfortunately I did not take my camera with featured in the James Bond film Diamonds
me that day to add to my ‘historical’ are Forever. The Southsea - Ryde, Isle of
collection of Canberra photos." Wight journey is now Europe’s sole
remaining hovercraft route.
Gavin Byrne, of Mawson: "I had arrived in
Canberra a few weeks before to join CSIRO The largest hovercraft in the world was built
as a research scientist. The lake was half full by the Russian company Almaz in St
at the time, so the shoreline of Lake Burley Petersburg. Named Zubr (NATO called it
Griffin was very different from what it is now Pormornik or Skua), it was until recently a
(I remember driving past the wet end of the top secret technological achievement. It’s
then hospital, now museum, jetty). 57 metres (187ft) long, 22.3 metres (76ft)
wide, and moves at 96kmh (60 mph). It can Mini-Hover built by Ossie Sterling and flown
"Most of the entries seemed to be powered carry three tanks and 100 marines, and can by Lord Brassey at Apethorpe in May 1966.
by Victa lawn mower engines but there were move over water, sandbanks and marshes, Built in an old chapel in Crowland
one or two larger, more finished, craft built surmounting obstacles up to two metres (6ft Lincolnshire, the materials used were
by university engineering departments. I 7in) high. plywood frame covered with unbleached
think Melbourne University Engineering calico then shrunk with aircraft dope. The
Department was one of the entrants." Somehow, it doesn’t sound nearly as much engines were Villiers lawn mower engines,
fun as those tiny lawnmower-powered craft one for lift, and originally two for thrust.
John Coggan, of Hackett: "They were good that staggered across Lake Burley Griffin Overall size 11'9” in length, 9'01” in width.
days when all this happened. We were flying back in 1964. Linked twin rudders at the rear for directional
Tiger Moths and building our own sailing control. There was no ducting on the thrust
boats and life was good. I am glad I was POSTSCRIPT: The Hoverclub of America
says "Hovercraft racing is now an engines, nor were there any safety guards.
there and very happy to be able to look back When it was completed the first problem
on it still." established sport. As there is very little
sponsorship most of the hovercraft racing is arose, it was too large to get out of the door.
Hovercraft have come a long way since still within the reach of the shade tree The side of the building was knocked down
those days. They are used around the world mechanic. The hovercraft industry shares and a sliding door installed to release the
to perform a variety of tasks. Travelling on a many engineering breakthroughs with the craft to the outside world. This craft was the
cushion of air, they can traverse any kind of ultralight aviation community." The 2002 forerunner of the Hoverair range of craft that
surface - dry land, swamps, water, snow or World Hovercraft Championships will be held were built in Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire
ice. in Du Quoin, Illinois (U.S.) in September under the sponsorship of Lord Brassey and
Organisers claim the world's fastest continued after his death in 1967 by his wife
Large hovercraft have carried millions of machines and drivers will compete in "this Lady Barbara Brassey.
passengers in many countries. Armed ultimate hovercraft competition."
military hovercraft provided speedy river
patrols in Vietnam. Tank and troop carrying Eric Shackle is a retired journalist whose
hovercraft carried out beach landing hobby is searching the Internet and writing
missions in the Gulf War. Smaller craft are about it. His work has been published by the
New York Times (U.S.),
Toronto Globe and Mail
(Canada), Sydney
Morning Herald
(Australia) and Straits
Times (Singapore). He is
copy editor of Anu Garg's
Ohio-based A Word A
Day free newsletter,
which is e-mailed five Modified 'Major' at Sybson airfield 1968. An
days a week to nearly attempt was made by Geoff Hatton on the
half a million word lovers land speed record for hovercraft at the
in 203 countries. Biggin Hill Airshow in 1968. It crashed on the
first leg of the run at an approximate speed
He has written a free e- of 70 mph and was never rebuilt. Prior to this
book, LIFE BEGINS AT it had completed a circuit of Silverstone
80...on the Internet, at racetrack. The only hovercraft ever to do so.
shackle/ebook.htm. Geoff Hatton can be contacted at

July to September 2001 Page 16

SEAIR Hovercraft 1:32 R/C SR.N4 Mk.2 Model by Mark Porter
SEAIR designs and constructs amphibious
aircraft, hovercraft, and a "Micro Watercraft"
we call the "Water Sport".

Our smallest Hovercraft is 24 feet (7.315m)

long and 8 feet (2.438m) wide off hover. We
have designs and manufacturing capabilities
for hovercraft up and over 36m.

Target markets are for search & rescue,

commercial transport, and recreation. The
SEAIR "flagship product" is our Ultralight
Flying Boat. This is a 2 person water based
aircraft capable of taking off and landing in I started building this model in 1994. I have
small bodies of water and reaching altitudes built over 20 scale radio controlled hovercraft The results to date speak for themselves in
of 8,000 feet. since the CC.5 model that I made in 1971, the photos. I am working on the cabin, rear
but nothing as big and complex as this. doors and fins, and plan to operate the craft
For the most part hovercraft in the USA are
at the next museum open day on 13th Sept.
built in garages and backyards. With the
exception of Textron (LCAC) the USA does
not have any commercial grade hovercraft
production. Until now. There are a few
smaller companies that market 2 and 4
person craft for recreation but the technology
and basic designs are very old.

I would very much like to hear from people

who support the hovercraft technology and
want to see it taken to higher levels. Please
feel free to contact me via E-mail, or direct.

Kurt H. Peterson Most of the models that I have built are

Vice-president based on types that have been operated by
SEAIR Hovertravel, e.g. SR.N5, SR.N6 and AP1-88.
500 Davy Lane The largest craft that I had built before Length 48 in (1,240 mm)
Wilmington, IL 60481 starting the N4 were 1/12 scale SR.N6 Mk.6 Width 29.25 in (743 mm)
USA and 1/20 scale AP1-88/100, at around five Height (power off) 14 in (359 mm)
feet long, or 1.5 metres. An SR.N4 Mk.2 built Lift Motors Four 400 to 1/32 scale would be the same length, but Lift Power Two 7 cell 50% wider. The 19 foot diameter propellers Thrust Motors Four 480
would scale to just over 7 inches, so would Thrust Power Four 7 cell
Controls 6 channels
Exclusive - work well directly driven by electric motors.
- All pylons collective direction (yaw)
- Aft pylons direction (rotate)
NGH Lift Fan Design - Fins direction
- Forward pylons thrust
- Aft pylons thrust
- Lift

The craft was originally designed to be lifted

by two RS380 motors, driving 5 inch
diameter 3-bladed props. The main skirt
trunk was made, running from one rear
corner, around the front of the craft, and then
to the rear on the other side. A makeshift
single-piece rear trunk was made, and the
craft hovered. Unfortunately, I ran out of
enthusiasm at that point, and put the craft
into storage.
Two SR.N6 Mk.6 and one AP1-88/100 later,
I dusted off the N4 and started again. I made
four removeable lift units with homebuilt
centrifugal fans, and four removable pylon
mounts. I also new skirt, with two rear
trunks, and the project was on again.

July to September 2001 Page 17

From the Archives - From Ozz to Snip
(by Ron Wade)

You never know where a phone call will

lead, and that was very true one day late in
November 1989. What, the caller asked,
would be involved in certifying a British-
designed passenger hovercraft built in
Australia for a cargo operation in northern B.
C.? We got a lot of weird queries, which
were obviously wild dreams, but this one
was different. The caller was a Merlyn
Royea, a vice president of Cominco, a large
mining company based in Vancouver, which
wanted to construct and develop a gold mine
in an area, which was virtually inaccessible.
A feasibility study had concluded that a
hovercraft could provide access, and
identified 3 possible craft which would meet
Cominco's cargo requirements, these were
to transport mine construction modules
weighing up to 12 tonnes, during the
construction phase, and 12 -15 tonnes of
concentrate product, and fuel, when the
mine was operating. The route was over
about 110 km of the Stikine-Iskut river
system in northwest B.C., from the SNIP
mine (I never did find out why SNIP) at
Bronson Creek, to the Alaskan port of
was provided. The forward part of the from 2 cranes fitted with scales -result was
Of the 3 identified craft, Larus (already in passenger cabin was kept. John and his close to what we expected, so we filled the
Canada), was deemed to be too slow, team had done the preliminary stressing and fuel tanks and went for gentle system
unreliable, and with many 'one-off design and there did not seem to be any checks. Everything was OK, so we got into
components, while a LACV-30 was very problems. I had already certified the basic the trials programme. John and I wanted to
expensive to operate, and too noisy for AP.1-88 for Canada, so only required the see if the new profile would affect handling in
regular operation in and out of Wrangell. The data relevant to the modification. Other, low the single lift engine, -failure at high yaw
feasibility study recommended that Cominco temperature mods would be fitted in angles. It did, but not to cause concern. We
proceed with the procurement and Canada. completed the lightweight phase, and loaded
modification. of an AP .1-88, of which 2 were up with water tanks. The new stressing
for sale in Australia. Next day was Sunday, and we relaxed on a allowed an increase of some 4000 kg to
trip by wave-piercer to the Great Barrier 44,000kg, and we approached the engine
Cominco did proceed, and I found myself Reef for a stop of about 4 hours for failure cases with caution, which was wise
flying into the tropics of Cairns in snorkelling and close-ups from a submarine. as the deceleration on lift engine failure was
Queensland from the January snows of on the severe side of moderate. John and I
Ottawa, in company with Merlyn Royea and We then flew to Brisbane, where the 2 craft agreed that we needed some yaw limitations
another v .p., David Nichols. John Leonard, lay; this was the first time Merlyn and David at high weights. Apart from that, the trials
chief de- signer of BHC had already arrived, had seen a hovercraft in the flesh, and they and inspection went off with no problems,
and we all headed for the shipyard of NQEA, went off for a long demo, while I did a and we all departed for home. The craft, now
to meet the owner, Don Fry and his team. thorough check of the other craft and its CH-COM, was loaded on a freighter and
NQEA built the AP.I-88 under license from records, and prepared a report for Merlyn. arrived in Vancouver in early June for fitting
BHC; they also build wave-piercing He and David had contractual sessions with the Canadian modifications, before travelling
catamarans, warships for the Australian the craft owners, and the next day he told under her own power to Snip.
Navy, and other ships. me they were going ahead. So, back to
Cairns to get together with John Leonard From Wrangell to Snip, the route crosses
(with whom I had worked closely for many Wrangell Sound into the wide Stikine River
The primary modification to the craft was to
years} and the NQEA engineers; it was for about 50 km, and then branches into the
remove the passenger cabin structure aft of
Frame 4, to provide a well deck 9m long, rather a unique situation and it was Iskut. From here on, there are no charts; the
important that we all knew who was doing Iskut is what is known as a "braided stream",
4.5m wide. The sides of this were
what and who wanted what. Cominco and which means that it is very shallow, full of
strengthened, and a grid of tie-down points
NQEA agreed to a timetable, which would shifting sandbanks and with few straight
have the craft ready for trials in May. stretches. Heavy rain- storms up-stream
wash 'logs'- mostly whole trees -into the
During the next 3 months, the data and river, swollen by the rain and running at up
reports trick- led in and I developed the to 10 knots, making every trip a new
certification trials and inspection adventure. Crew concentration and a high
programme -standard to John and I, but a bit level of driving skill are essential. For the first
fancy for the laid-back Aussies. Back to few trips, the craft was monitored on the
Cairns in early May, to find the craft in the Iskut by a helicopter, while the crew made
throes of the usual last-minute delays. A notes and markings on the rudimentary
couple of days later, she was lifted on to a maps.
low-Ioader and towed about a kilometre to
the slipway. The primary task in 1990 was to construct
the mine, and Cominco had an army of
First item was to get the weight and c.g., engineers designing how to cut the larger

July to September 2001 Page 18

travelling the full length of the airstrip to
refuel and tranship cargo. This meant about Slightly Off-Topic...
3 km per trip over very abrasive gravel and
stirring up dust storms. The operator had (A message recently posted to the Hover-
pointed out the unnecessary skirt wear to Gen discussion group on the internet)
Merlyn, to no avail. At a convenient
opportunity, I raised the point with Merlyn, Dear All,
and eventually he gave in, and the fuel truck
and crane were positioned at the riverbank. I know this somewhat deviates from our
Skirt wear and damage, due to the tree normal subjects, but still remains of interest
debris and gravel beds on the route, were to some of us.
the major maintenance problem -on several
trips, the craft returned with a sizeable tree
items of equipment to fit the craft. Cranes, impaled in the skirt. A comprehensive stock
bulldozers, trucks, modules, cement -it all of spares had been bought with the craft, but
had to be moved, and very little could come skilled personnel were needed, and for the
in by air. In the first 4 months, she imported first year, mechanics from Hovertravel and
over 900 tonnes -the largest single loads BHC were contracted, and the mine had
were 4 generator sets, each 12 tonnes. excellent workshop resources for major
Why all this effort? The ore vein (in the
middle of a mountain, found only by a stain Normally, 2 trips per day were made to
in the rock) had been assayed at just over I Wrangell from April to October, then one a
oz per tonne with a reserve of almost I day until December. Night operations were
million tonnes. The estimated production avoided, but were possible with powerful
would be about 270 tonnes per day, giving a searchlights. In 1992, work capacity was
working life of 8 years. almost doubled by positioning a barge on the I have made tentative enquires about
Stikine just downstream of the Iskut, and preserving one of two Rodriquez RHS 70
Thanks to the work capacity of CH-COM the transferring cargo there. With this change hydrofoils currently up for sale with Red
mine commenced operation early in 1991; and continued successful operation, the Funnel Ferries, Southampton. They are laid
now the craft started exporting concentrated mine was worked out somewhat ahead of up in Cowes, in very good condition. They
ore and importing fuel and supplies to estimate, and the craft was put up for have no commercial potential in UK waters
support the camp, which had a rotating crew disposal in 1998. due to classification conditions and the
of about 120. 4 special fuel tanks, each of insurances associated with this. They are
3,000 litres, were permanently installed in realistically worth scrap values or MTU
the well deck to import diesel fuel, whilst the engine spares value. They can however be
export load was 7 bags of concentrate, each used as a private vessel and I am currently
stamped with the weight, nominally 3,000lb. investigating whether or not they can then be
Compared to the original production used as private charter / corporate activities
estimate of 270 tonnes per day, the mine to help it's upkeep. My objective is to try to
was up to 360 tonnes. keep one of these interesting and rare
vessels, synonymous with Southampton and
The approach to Snip by air is not for the the Isle of Wight in the Solent area. They do
faint-hearted; side slipping down a glacier fall into the category of "too old for service,
valley, levelling out over the river and turning too young for a museum" but thrown away
into an impossibly short (but uphill) airstrip now they go forever. We all have seen many
aimed at the mountain. On landing, one an interesting item go in this direction.
passes the wreck of a Bristol freighter in the
bush on one side, and a Cessna on the
other. My first trip, soon after the crew had
got familiar with the route, was to check out This operation must rank as an outstanding
the route safety; there are only two log example of the application of the unique
cabins and occasional eagles and bears on capabilities of hovercraft when operated
the route, so radio checks are a must. The within its limitations. Unfortunately in
trip down to Wrangell took about 3 hours -we Canada, this has been almost unique in the
got lost going up a blind alley, and the commercial field.
cockpit chatter indicated the need for
unusual navigation skills -" This is where we
turn sharp right and go between those two
trees", "What two trees?" "Well, they were
Hovercraft in the News
there yester- day". We checked frequently
with both Wrangell and Snip, usually getting ENFIELD, Connecticut, USA
both, always one. It was on the return trip (from James Wilkinson)
that we ran into problems -we were over The question is; If any of you, your friends or
halfway back and could not raise Snip, There were some scary moments on the colleagues have any interest, advice
despite repeated calls right up to being Connecticut River Saturday afternoon near (I especially need advice with how to fund
visual. When we got in, the reason became Enfield. A boat became hung up on some i.e. a trust or syndicate etc.) in any shape or
apparent -a mum bear and her cub had rocks near a dam just after 4 p.m. form please can you contact me, Neil
come in to camp at suppertime, and a rather Newman, at the following e-mail address:
Enfield police and fire units responded and
cranky dad was prowling on the outskirts. All
needed a hovercraft and another boat to free
hands had been called out to (carefully) the trapped vessel. The boat was occupied, Further information can be seen at the
settle the family quarrel before anyone got but it was unclear just how many people International Hydrofoil Society website
hurt. This was one situation, which is NOT were in it. under hydrofoils for sale. Also
covered in the approval process!! an article in Classic Fast Ferries
Police say the boat was hung up in an area
cybermagazine current issue.
The mine staff took a little time to get used to of dangerous whirlpools and currents.
the hovercraft, and initially insisted on it Rescuers were able to get a line on the boat Thanks,
and tow it to safety. There were no injuries. Neil Newman, Southampton

July to September 2001 Page 19

Commercial Hovercraft for Sale - A Round Up from the Web
Name: Freja Viking and tested. All new uprated lift fans and Griffon 1500TD
transmission bearings fitted.
Type: AP1-88/100S
All new skirt 'fingers'.
Manufactured by: British Hovercraft * Craft painted overall.
Corporation / Hovertravel * New carpet and seat covers - internal trim
Ownership: Previously owned and to customer specifications.
operated by Scandinavian Airline System * New OR manufacturer overhauled lift
between Copenhagen and Malmo. 1997 engines fitted.
onwards by Hovertravel Limited. * Sutrac air conditioning - customer option.
* New main skirt structure - customer option.
Status: Undergoing a major refit and
upgrade programme on the Isle of Wight, Performance modification: P r o p e l l e r
England. ducts strengthened. Hull lengthened 1m at
the stern. Two new 800hp MTU water The photograph above shows the Griffon
Delivery: June 2001 cooled propulsion engines fitted. All new 1500TD. The craft for sale is some 13 years
propulsion transmission to include toothed old, has some 3000 hours on the clock and
Capacity options: 98 seats without toilets kevlar belts and carbon fibre propeller
or air conditioning OR up to 84 seats with 2 is in reasonable condition. It has been used
shafts, 2 sets. New electronic throttles for lift as Griffon Hovercraft Ltd's charter craft,
toilets and air conditioning OR further and propulsion engines. New propeller hubs
allocation of passenger cabin space for carrying out hydrographic surveys, mud
and manufacturer overhauled propeller sampling, assisting dredging operations etc.
different types of accommodation e.g. galley, blades.
bunk space etc. Whereas the craft is equipped with sixteen
Equipment: * New Radar, DGPS inward-facing bench seats, it should really
General description: The hull is and Radios - customer option. only be used for up to say 12-14 people or a
manufactured from welded marine grade * New life rafts - customer option. payload of one tonne. Before any sale, GHL
aluminium. Forward propulsion is provided would service the craft and repair or replace
by 2 diesel engines each driving a fixed pitch Certification: Freja Viking supplied any worn skirt segments. The craft is
4 bladed propeller positioned within a duct. with new Dynamically Supported Craft equipped with a VHF radio. Price £42,000
Transmission is via a toothed belt and Safety Certificate issued by the UK Maritime (Pounds Sterling).
shafting. Lift power is supplied from 2 air & Coastguard Agency. All radio licences.
cooled diesel engines each driving Griffon 2000TD and
centrifugal lift fans which are connected by Documentation: O p e r a t i n g Manual
shafting. Control is achieved primarily by Maintenance Manual 2000TDX MkII
vertical rudders situated immediately behind Support: This hovercraft is offered with a
the propeller ducts, and secondarily through 1000 hours consumable spares pack and a
bow thrusters, which are powered by fans spare overhauled Deutz lift engine.
driven by the lift engines. Additional control * Extensive operating spares are available
inputs are available by varying engine power by arrangement and a full spares service is
to include asymmetric application. available from the UK.
Propulsion system of type AP1-88/100S: * Training in the UK for Pilots and Engineers.
A combined fuel and ballast system feeds * Support in country by an experienced Pilot
the engines and enables the Captain to trim and Engineer for any time period subject to
the hovercraft when experiencing varying agreed terms.
loads and different weather conditions. * Mechanical warranties subject to the
operating environment and retention of
A 24 volt electrical installation provides Hovertravel personnel. Both craft are shown in the photograph
power to all systems via an essential above, the 16 seat Griffon 2000TD being on
services and a main busbar. The craft is Operating Costs: T y p i c a l f u e l the left and the 21 seat Griffon 2000TDX
fitted with an essential services battery and 2 consumption 300 ~ 400 litres per hour. MkII on the right. The 2000TD is some 12
start battery sets. Estimated parts and direct labour cost, £100 years old, has around 8500 operating hours
per operating hour. on the clock and is in good mechanical
The hovercraft is fully amphibious and is condition. It is currently used as GHL's
supported on a 'bag and finger' type skirt The above is based on a long term and
demonstrator and before selling it we would
system, which features transverse stability ongoing basis and includes all engine
put in a new (reconditioned) engine, repair or
bags and a half craft length longitudinal keel. overhauls / replacements, all periodic refits
replace any worn skirt segments and give it
These features provide considerable stability and all flexible structure maintenance.
a good check-over and service. The 16
and durability. Price: Subject to Specification and On seats are inward-facing bench seats. The
Application 2000TDX MkII is around 3 years old, has
Performance: 45 knots in calm
about 850 hours on the clock and is in good
conditions is guaranteed. The craft is
Please note additional hovercraft of the mechanical condition. This craft has a PVC
capable of 50+ knots in calm conditions but
same specification may be available roof and roll-up PVC windows, and again
45 knots is the maximum type approved
soon. before selling, we would repair or replace
speed. Typical speeds in service will range
worn skirt segments, and service it. This
from 25 to 45 knots subject to wind and sea Contact: craft has 19 forward facing basic seats and
conditions. Mr Richard Box two inward-facing seats. Both craft are
Please Note Items marked by ' * ' may be Director & General Manager equipped with a VHF radio and the 2000TDX
specified by the Buyer. Hovertravel Ltd. MkII has a Furuno radar. The price of the
Lind Street 2000TD is £125,000 and the 2000TDX MkII
Major Refit: All engines and transmission Ryde is £250,000.
removed. Ducts, bow thrusters, the mast and Isle of Wight
all other deck hatches and machinery All prices above are quoted ex works
removed. All buoyancy tanks opened, Tel: +44 1983 563051 Southampton England, nett of all
inspected and tested. Hull structure cleaned Fax: +44 1983 562216 commission, and subject to final
back to bare metal using very high pressure E-mail: specification and contract.
water jets. All electrical systems overhauled

July to September 2001 Page 20

SR.N4s The Princess Anne & The Princess Margaret

One of the fastest passenger carrying craft

in commercial operation, the Hovercraft are
capable of reaching service speeds of up to
50 knots. Their amphibious capabilities offer
exceptional flexibility for passenger and
cargo carrying operations.

Powered by four 3,800 horsepower gas

turbine engines, a Hovercraft works on
aeronautical principles as a cushion of air is
generated under pressure by huge lift fans.
This lifts the craft a few feet off the ground
and enables pusher propellers to fly it in any
lateral direction above the ground or water

Used as a sea vehicle, Hovercraft have

enormous advantages over conventional
ships. They are much faster and can reach
speeds of up to 60 knots with a usual service
speed of 50 knots. Since they draw no
water, they are not restricted by sea depth or
tides and can leave the water and skim into
a large pad located well ashore to allow Mean wind speed 40-50 knots.
embarkation and disembarkation of Classification: Nil. Maximum sea height 3½m (significant).
passengers. No dry docks are required for
maintenance and Hovercraft can be parked Certification: Speed:
safely on their pads when not at sea. UK Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) Cruise speed 60 knots in calm conditions.
Safety certificate issued annually.
Charter & operational history Spares:
Dimensions: 6 spare engines
Since their construction in 1967 both The Length: 56.38m 4 Rover engines
Princess Anne and The Princess Margaret Breadth: 27.89m 4 propellers
have operated on the Dover, England - Height (off cushion): 11.73m 5 generators
Calais, France route. Height (on cushion): 14.17m Major structural spares
Complete spare skirt system
Weight: Empty: 195 tonnes Large quantity of skirt raw material
All Up: 325 tonnes Huge quantities of consumables (aluminium,
fasteners, extrusion, tube, sealants, etc)
Main Engines: 4 x Rolls Royce Proteus Complete set of specialised tooling for
15M 529 Gas Turbines, (max. continuous calibration, set up, handling of craft
3800 S.H.P. each). components.
Vessel Description
Propulsion: 4 x 21 feet diameter Ground Equipment:
G.R.P. Variable Pitch Propellers. Specialised jacking and winching system.
GH-2006 The Princess Margaret &
Auxilliary Power: 2 x Rover IS/90 Gas * All details given without guarantee
GH-2007 The Princess Anne.
Turbines with generators for electrical power
(55 KVA each). For further information on The Princess
Margaret or The Princess Anne please
Passenger Ro-Ro Amphibious Hovercraft.
Navigation Equipment: e-mail us at:
2 x Bridgemaster Daylight Viewing Radars
Date of Build:
250 x 340 'X' and 'S' Band. Interswitchable.
1967-69 to Mk 1. Lengthened, modified and
2 x Sailor VHF Radios
uprated 1977-79 to Mk 3.
Fibre Optic Gyro Compass (C. Plath).
Built By: British Hovercraft Corporation,
East Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Safety Equipment:
Life rafts and lifejackets.
Port of Registry: N/A
Fuel: Kerosene.
Hoverspeed Ltd / Sea Containers Ltd.
Maximum Fuel Capacity:
36000 litres (28000 litres useable).
Capacity: 321 passengers which
includes 40 first class seats with dedicated
Fuel Consumption:
servery (max. passenger capacity is 424).
5000 litres / hour.
Vehicles - approximately 52 cars. Cars and
vans to 3 tonnes, limited space in a
Maximum Operating Conditions:
strengthened area for vehicles to 10 tonnes.

July to September 2001 Page 21

From the Archives - An Introduction to the Hovercraft Age
THE CHAIRMAN: Gentlemen, please! These
are most valuable suggestions and will be
carefully noted for discussion at a later date.
But for the present we must make haste
slowly. We must define our objectives. We
are face to face with what will undoubtedly
be an extremely rapid development of the
hovercraft principle and its very varied
application to civil and military life. We must
not forget that in addition to Mr. Cockerell’s
great work, Mr. Carl Weiland has been
experimenting in Switzerland and already
speaks of giant hover vessels weighing
upwards of 350,000 tons and capable of
crossing the oceans at a height of eight feet,
(Reprinted from Punch – September 9, 1959) force F acting downwards upon a flat surface while at the other end of the scale the Ford
S, to which it is inclined at an angle which Motor Company has demonstrated an air-
we may call X. Now it is a well known fact cushioned scooter which travels a fraction of
First Annual General Meeting of that where the angle of incidence- an inch off the ground. In a very few years,
the Hovercraft Development and perhaps ten, perhaps five, travel at a height
Friends of Air-cushioned Travel MR. HARDCASTLE: I vote we have none of of eighteen inches above ground, or water,
League this. We don’t want to get bogged down in a will be a commonplace. Hovercars,
lot of detail. The point is, what are we going hoveryachts, hoverbuses, hovertaxis,
THE CHAIRMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, we to tell the Government to do for a start? hovertractors-
are privileged to be present at the dawning
of a new age. The pioneer flights of the A MISS HANKEY: Oh, the Government. I MR. HARDCASTLE: Hovermowing-
SR.N1 have shown beyond all possibility of can tell you what the Minister of Transport machines?
doubt that the vehicle of the future will be and Civil Aviation will say. He’ll say that as
neither waterborne nor wheelborne nor Minister of Transport he is, concerned only THE CHAIRMAN: The possibilities are
indeed airborne, but air-cushioned. Our with vehicles that travel on land or in water, endless. But these things cannot operate on
League has come into being to ensure that and as Minister of Civil Aviation he cannot our present road system. Quite apart from
for once planning is and continues to be, be held responsible for anything that does low bridges and such unknown hazards as
ahead of achievement. We have seen how not, in a true sense, fly. He’ll say that in any the side effects of hovering over sewer
dismally, in the motor car age, the authorities case we cannot and must not pledge gratings, there is the safety factor. At speeds
of this country have failed to provide in time posterity’s credit by a rash precipitancy, approaching-
the roads, the parking space, the safety however well intentioned. As the future
devices that the growth of that form of travel unfolds before us, stage by stage- MISS HANKEY: I wanted to ask somebody
has successively demanded, so that now, about that. What ‘s it like being run over by
more than sixty years after the first petrol- MR. GOOCH: that a cushion of air is a hovercraft? As long as you lie down in
driven vehicle took the road, we will lag trapped within the outer, or annular jet time, is it any worse than an ordinary hair-
calamitously behind. Let us not be caught curtain and exerts an omni-directional do?
napping again. Let us, by forethought, by, pressure which, in favourable
discussion, by agitation, by pressure of circumstances, may he as high P4. MR. HARDCASTLE: They’ll be having these
every kind, if need be by uproar and damned rallies before we know where we
marches with banners (Applause), see to it THE MAYOR OF WESTPORT: Talking of are. When I think of the Vintage Hovercraft
that this time our preparations are made too stages, they say that the Stage 2 hovercraft run to Brighton in another ten years’ time...
soon rather than too late - that our will weigh about forty tons and carry eighty
hoverways and our hoverparks, our passengers, that Stage 3 will weigh a MR. GOOCH: what is known as “hump
hoverports, our hovercode for hoverists (or, hundred tons, and that by the time Stage 5 is speed.” The hole in the water generated
as I should myself prefer to call them, reached the thing will be 600 feet long and beneath the hovercraft when at rest is left
hovercraftsmen), that all these essential 350 feet wide. Won’t that cause a devil of a behind once hump speed is exceeded and
concomitants of the Hover Age are ready lot of spray? follows in the wake of the vessel at an
before and not after the hovercraft increasing distance.
themselves begin to pour in their thousands THE CHAIRMAN: We must take one point at
and their tens of thousands from the a time. Would someone give us a start by SIR EDWIN SNAP, O.B.E.: May I draw the
factories. Let us take heart from the example proposing that “the object of the League is to attention of the Chair to the fact that Mr.
of the Interplanetary Society, who have for promote in every possible way the interests Gooch is still speaking? Could not this hole
years been studying the problems of space of travel by hovercraft “?
travel, though the first man-carrying space
vehicle has still to make its maiden flight. As MR. HARDCASTLE: I object to the name
man rises to new heights- “hovercraft.” Hovering is static, as with
kestrels. What about calling it the Cockerell,
A VOICE: Eighteen inches in this case, so after its inventor? The name rather happily
they say. suggests an inability to fly coupled with the
power to rise a short distance above the
THE CHAIRMAN: I was speaking ground in a welter of dust and feathers.
metaphorically, Mr. Hardcastle. I will now,
without more ado, call upon the secretary to A VOICE: I like “blower” myself. It’s graphic.
put you all in the picture with a brief
description of the principle upon which the ANOTHER VOICE: That’s it. Then, when the
hovercraft operates. Mr. Gooch. time comes to advertise for passengers, we
can use the slogan “You‘re wanted on the
MR. GOOCH: I want you to try to imagine a blower.”

July to September 2001 Page 22

be borne in mind when assessing or, as I
would rather say, evaluating…

MR. RONALD BUSH, A.R.I.B.A. I don’t know

whether the application of the hovercraft
principle to static constructions has been
passed under review by the Committee. Air-
cushioned houses would be, in many ways,
a big step forward. Quite apart from a
considerable saving on foundations, the re-
shaping of precincts, city centres, and even
in due course a whole conurbation, to suit
changing traffic requirements, would be
greatly facilitated. Of course the cost of
producing the cushion-possibly by piping to
domestic residences from a central
powerhouse would have to be borne in mind.

MR. HARDCASTLE: What about cellarage?

THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Bush has made a

to which he refers be filled in some way with most interesting suggestion, which we must
luggage, which would arrive later at reduced THE CHAIRMAN: We are going ahead too certainly examine at the right time. Fully
rates? fast. Nothing will be gained- mobile property may well be the answer to
the problems of an overcrowded island.
THE EDITOR OF “HOVERCRAFT”: I have A BABEL OF VOICES: Our whole purpose is However-
been thinking about parking problems. If the to go ahead fast... Exactly. There is not a
smaller land going vehicles were to be moment to lose… MR. GEORGE BLAND: Well, for goodness’
designed with flat tops they could perhaps …bumbledom and obstructionism. I beg to sake! Am I going to have the whole of
be parked one above the other with their move… Stepney next-pubs and all - traipsing about
engines running, in a kind of pagoda. That is …together with properly trained air- over my horticultural land looking for
only a suggestion, of course. cushioned police at intersections. somewhere to settle? You‘ll get no
If Britain is to have the first nuclear-powered subscription from me, if that’s the size of it.
MR. GEORGE BLAND: Speaking as a hovercraft…
nursery gardener, what about my cloches? …and some kind of draught-proof mounting- MISS HANKEY: The League must beware of
I’ve had enough trouble with supersonic block for the convenience of passengers. becoming too visionary. No doubt there will
bangs breaking my greenhouses, without be hovercaravans for holidaymakers, when
having a pack of flying saucers blowing a lot the time is ripe; but further than that into the
of hot air all over my smaller stuff. These future I for one do not at present care to
things have got to be kept off private peer.
property or we’ll none of us know where we
are. If they want to make holes in the sea MR. GOOCH: that economy in
and stir up clouds of dust in desert country, operation depends, as I say, very largely on
good luck to ‘em; but don’t let me catch keeping M to a minimum, while raising the
anyone exerting a force F on my glass or I’ll value of R, as an asymptote of P, to the
very soon- highest practicable level.

THE CHAIRMAN: Exactly, That is why it is A VOICE: I second that.

so vital that immediate steps be taken to
provide adequate hovercraft facilities up and THE CHAIRMAN: Order! Order! Mr. Gooch, I (After further discussion a resolution was
down the country. We must have the think you had something to add about the passed calling upon the proper authorities to
goodwill of the public, not their opposition. I ratio of cushion diameter to operational take all necessary steps in good time. The
move that we send a resolution to the height? meeting then closed with a vote of thanks to
Government demanding the allocation of an Mr. Gooch, Mr. Hardcastle dissenting.)
initial sum of one hundred million pounds for MR. GOOCH: A number of factors have to
the early construction of hover-throughways
connecting London with all important cities
and seaports.



MISS HANKEY: I move to add that soft

drinks only be available at hoverstations on
such main routes. The menace of the
drunken hovercraft driver must be taken in
hand at once.


Another thing. The inspection of all
hovercraft over ten years of age should be
made compulsory by Act of Parliament.
Otherwise we shall have worn-out annular
jets blowing out air at all angles, with
consequent loss of control and risk of
grounding, not to mention the
embarrassment of women pedestrians. Five
years would be better, in the early stages.

July to September 2001 Page 23

Andrew Cooke Visits Hovershow 2001
(from European Ferry Scene) out to sea, towards
her East Cowes
The Hovercraft Museum Trust birthplace just across
the Solent.
(HMT) staged Hovershow 2001
over the May Day Bank Holiday Both are loaded with
Weekend on 4th-7th May. As spares and still the
before the venue was the property of Sea
Containers, on sale
Hovercraft Museum's secure site
for £4.5 million. The
on the coastal side of HMS sisters arrived here
Daedalus at Lee-on-Solent near for storage in
Gosport, Hampshire. December 2000 from
Dover, the end of an
The 2001 event was the third Hovershow by era. Numerous
the HMT being made possible courtesy of rumours have
the Defence Land Agency / MoD. The other circulated concerning
Hovershows were held in 1995 and 1999, their sale but only
with industry-orientated events having taken time will tell. The
place in 1966, 1976 and 1978 at Browndown Princess Margaret
and the old Gosport Army Base. The 2001 was opened up to the
show was the most successful ever with public each day. It was strange to walk Royce Proteus engines in full cry nor
ticket sales able to cover the Museum's land around on board knowing that no departure propellers slicing through the air. The Swift is
rent of £18,000 per annum for the next year, was imminent and without the Hoverspeed soon to be completely repainted and tidied
plus some of the day-to-day running costs. cabin crew on duty. Both craft were ideally up. The roof was recently re-tarred to seal
The land agents also take a proportion of the situated for photos, except for a caravan in the many leaks that are prevalent on all
proceeds as per contract. front of the port bow of "TPM!" Hoverspeed SR.N4s (including the Mk Ills). The
engineers are still servicing the two sisters Hovercraft Museum Trust is also refurbishing
The writer attended the Members' and Media weekly. the cabins bit by bit. This will be a long-term
Day on Friday 4th May, which acted as a refurbishment, which will progress as money
dress rehearsal for the public shows on the To the left of the 'Margaret,' and facing the allows, repairing the many small problems
following two days. SR.N4 Mklll, was resident SR.N4 Swift, an that are evident on board. Ultimately though,
original unstretched version which has been there is a need to get her under cover to
HMS Daedalus was of course once home to on the site since retirement in 1991, being allow a start on a major rebuilding and
the former Military Hovercraft Trials Unit, donated by Hoverspeed shortly afterwards. restoration programme which would bring
which operated between 1961 and 1981, The Swift could carry 37 cars and 285 the craft up to Museum display standard
complete with slipway into the Solent. The passengers and made 11,000 cross- (non- operational) as the central exhibit in
base has played host to the SR.N1, the Channel flights. The 'Anne' and 'Margaret' the future Hovercraft Museum. It is also
vehicle carrying military SR.N3, SR.N5s and are 58 ft longer and carried over 50 million hoped to restore the pylons and propellers to
latterly the Mine Counter Measures / Mine- passengers and 11 million cars across the their positions on the roof, all these items
hunting BHC BH.7 and SR.N6 hovercraft. Channel. The 'Margaret' holds the record for being in storage whilst awaiting
The last military hovercraft to be based here the most used hovercraft in the world. reinstallation.
were the current Royal Marines' Griffon 2000
TDX hovercraft. Tours of the Swift were available daily and At the western end of the site could be found
the craft, devoid of engines, propellers and the Museum's BH.7 which has been
Visitors to the show would find the main pylons, was hovered each day using 6-ton externally restored, but devoid of her
hangars still in situ which now house some air blowers, which are on loan from Nuttall propeller. The ex-military craft was opened
of the Hovercraft Museum Trust's collection Ltd. To watch the craft hover was an eerie up daily to visitors. The BH.7 and Swift were
of small hovercraft, a film theatre and an sight and sound as all that could be heard moved to their present locations to make
impressive selection of models and was the air blowers and the hiss of air way for the move of the SR.N4s from Dover
components, including the lift fan from the escaping under the skirt, there were no Rolls last year. Behind the BH.7 was the Griffon
world's first passenger hovercraft, 1500D Florence Gertrude, which
the 1960 built Vickers VA-3. This had been loaned to the Museum.
craft operated across the Dee from The craft was moved from
Rhyl to Wallasey for British United Fishbourne on the Island via the
Airlines. Other complete craft on car ferry service to Portsmouth,
display included an AV Tiger 12 on a low-Ioader. The craft was
GH-2126, a trio of Hoverhawks used on the Panama Canal during
plus numerous small craft including 1987 and later used by Hoverlink
an Osprey and various "home- in the north of England from
made" hovers. A healthy variety of where the name was acquired!
hovercraft-related merchandise Other Griffon craft on display were
was also available as well as the 3000 TDX Mkll demonstrator
stands by Hovertravel, the and the smaller Griffon 450TD
Association of Search and Rescue currently being used by the RNLI
Hovercraft (ASRH), Hoveraid, on evaluation trials for estuary,
Storm and others. mud flat and inshore rescues,
based at the Poole HQ.
Taking centre stage were the
magnificent sleeping giants, The Association of Search and
namely the SR.N4s The Princess Rescue Hovercraft and
Margaret and The Princess Anne, Hovertravel ran rides at the show
the latter being to the left of the using a Griffon 2000TDX Mkll
entrance whilst the 'Margaret' faces (which had recently returned from

July to September 2001 Page 24

s t o r a g e More News from the SR.N4s
compound so
that she is safe (by Lyndon Ford)
from this sort of
treatment. (again Greetings all, I’m back with more snippets of
now done—Ed). news from the museum and the SR.N4s.
Since my last update, half of 07’s car deck
The Hovercraft has been repainted. Hoverspeed engineers
Museum Trust's including myself carried this out. It was a
counterpart, the long a tiring job.
Don’t forget that 07 (Anne) would have been
Society, actively
due for an overhaul last year so there was
promotes the
much scrapping of paint to be done. After
m o d e r n
the etch has dried, the primer can be painted
on. This normally takes around 5-6 hours to
industry, which is
dry, after which the topcoat can be added.
far from dead.
Companies such Each week different problems present
as Griffon and themselves. Two fuel booster pumps failed.
S l i n g s b y Each pump is wired for 3-phase and has a
service in Burma) and one of the three continue to build hovercraft in the UK for contactor. As this happened, the two contact
Ryde-based AP1-88/100 craft, the Freedom customers worldwide whilst others are still relays controlling each pump also went – not
90. The latter operated just prior to the being built in the former Soviet Union and the easiest of jobs to replace when there are
afternoon return flight to Ryde from the USA for both civilian and military purposes. no markings on them!
show. The Hovertravel craft departed Ryde Recently the Hellenic Navy in Greece took
at 10.45 each day, returning with delivery of four Project 1232/Pormornik I’m glad to say that both craft have a full
passengers at 15.00. In between flights the Class hovercraft, which have assumed the complement of lights on the car deck. The
Freedom 90 returned to Ryde so as to names: L180 Kefallinia, L181 Zakynthos, four emergency spots are replaced
comply with regulations governing the crew L182 Kerkyra, & L183 Ithaki. immediately when one fails. The other 28v
working hours. Watching the hovercraft emergency lights, are also fully working.
manoeuvre on the slipway at Lee was as The modern day hovercraft also plays a very There is one ballast inverter unit left for the
impressive as always and evoked memories important search & rescue role. For example 200v lights, I have had to remove a few
of the two SR.N4s when they stormed, and the Coastguard in Vancouver, Canada, have fittings in the cabins for safety reasons.
indeed roared, up the beach in December used an SRN6 for 30 years, saving more Unfortunately, the Galley on 07 has no lights
2000. A vintage bus service and helicopter lives than any other such operation, plus the at the present time, this being due to a wiring
rides from Port Solent also ran in connection RNLI, ASRH and Hoveraid employ small fault, which is proving hard to find.
with the event. craft. The radar on each craft, I try to fire up at
least 3 times a month. The inverters need to
Hovershow 2001 was a most interesting The HMT is working to preserve a vital be run all the time to keep them in a fully
event and quite unique in the world today. chapter in the book of maritime history and working order, but this is not possible due to
Due to the need for funding, it may be deserves to prosper. The hovercraft industry the limited access to the craft. The larger
necessary for the Trust to host some smaller lives on with order books currently full, and scanner requires a 240v supply, this is fed
open weekends later in the year to try to although not a huge industry it is still an area from the inverter situated in the port forward
boost funds, as there is some major of British-led know how with customers cabin. It runs on a 110v supply and will
expenditure ahead, including the movement worldwide. Nowhere else in the world can produce a smooth 240v at 20-30 amps.
of the SR.N6 from Fishbourne on 31st May one see such an impressive and diverse
2001 and the hoisting of the HM2 out of the collection of hovercraft than that displayed Dry Cycles were completed a few weeks
water at Wicor which will require a very large by the Hovercraft Museum Trust. Food for ago. After each dry cycle, the engines are
crane. The Trust cannot approach the thought, the collection was started by the sprayed with steelguard to protect them from
Lottery for funding as it would need to own acquisition of the last existing SR.N5 and the salt air. It was amazing how much salt
the site and the land agents are not now the surviving trio of world famous we discovered after removing the engine
prepared to sell at present. The Welldeck SR.N4s sit together whilst the future of at cowlings. A hydraulic leak was discovered
SR.N6 (a converted SR.N5), donated by least one SR.N4 Mklll is decided. Big oaks on the port fin on 06. The oil is seeping out
Hoverwork in 1991, is in the final stages of from little acorns grow! one of the jacks; this will be replaced very
being prepared for the move to HMS shortly.
Daedalus; the skirt has been reinstalled Grateful thanks are extended to Chris Potter
& Lyndon Ford of the Hovercraft Museum The Hoverspeed team consists of Tony
(using a stretched SR.N6 skirt) with trial
Trust for all their help & information supplied. Rowing and myself. If bigger jobs need
hovers being made in May using a 6-ton air
doing, then either Tony Wilkinson or Kevin
blower. The 9-ton craft
Pearce join us. It is hoped that the level of
will be towed and
maintenance will increase, as more jobs
hovered across to
need doing.
Lee-on-Solent. (all
now done—Ed). There are no planned engine starts at the
moment; this is mainly due to do the safety
The HM2 sidewall factor. Skirt hinges are sprayed once a
craft is stored on a month with steelguard; this lubricates and
mud mooring at Wicor, protects the hinge from the salt air. It is
and recently suffered hoped that the painting of the roof will
at the hands of commence shortly, the same system for the
vandals who managed car deck will be implemented on the roof – it
to break all the will take a few weeks.
windows and get on
board. The craft is still That’s all for now, if you would like to find out
complete, and can be more about the SR.N4’s at the museum and
repaired, but must be the work which takes place, please ring me
lifted from the water at the office on 023 9255 2090 and I will try
and placed into a to answer your questions.

July to September 2001 Page 25

Hovercraft World Speed Record Attempt Planned for Canberra Ferry to be Fast, Lush
(By Eric Shackle) Portugal, in September 1995. I was one of (from the Tampa Tribune)
the officials for that event.
A bid to set a new world speed As night falls across Tampa Bay, you leave
record for hovercraft is planned to "Each vehicle had to cover a measured your luxurious room at St. Petersburg's
be held on Lake Burley Griffin, in kilometre, first in one direction and then Renaissance Vinoy Resort behind and step
return. Their average time for the two runs aboard a sleek 100-foot ferry.
Australia's capital city, Canberra, in
was used for the speed record.
2004, as the highlight of the World
Hovercraft Championships. "Unfortunately, there was a huge bend in the Riding on a cushion of air, the craft rockets
river before the start, so there was no smoothly across Tampa Bay at 50 knots.
The events, which are sure to attract global straight run-up, and a 60-foot dam at the You ease into a sofa in the VIP lounge,
media coverage, will commemorate the 40th end, so competitors let up on the throttle well margarita in hand. Fifteen minutes later, you
anniversary of the world's first hovercraft before they completed their runs. dock at Tampa's cruise terminal and head
race, held on March 14, 1964, on the then out to savor Ybor City's night life.
partially-filled lake "Highest speed was 137.40 km/hr (85.376
mph) recorded on September 20, 1995 by At 4 a.m., you slip aboard the last ferry back
The attempt to break the world speed record American Bob Windt in a V-6 auto engine to St. Petersburg, sipping an espresso until
was suggested by Chris Fitzgerald, powered UH19P. Later in the week I climbed you dock back at the hotel.
Australian-born president of one of the aboard together with a Portuguese official
world's leading hovercraft manufacturers, and two other American racers, with Bob That hedonist's dream soon will be reality,
Neoteric Hovercraft Inc., of Terre Haute, driving, and we went for a blast down the says K.Y. Rogers of Fast Cats Ferry Service,
Indiana. His company, then known as river to a waiting riverside luncheon. which plans to open a Tampa-St.
Australian Air Cushion Vehicle Development Petersburg-Bradenton service early next
(AACVD), competed in the 1964 event. "British car drivers who were going to the
luncheon on a road parallel to the river told
Today, its American offshoot has customers me later that they could not keep up with us -
in 50 countries, including Disney World, “It will be like entering the first-class section
and their speedometers were reading over
local and national rescue departments, dive of a very luxurious airliner for a 15-minute
100 mph. Our onboard air speed indicator
teams, gold mines, environmental and trip,'' Rogers said of the ferry ride. “Full bar
was 'pegged' to the maximum of 100 knots.
fishery research departments at universities, and margaritas - like a condensed Jimmy
oil-spill clean-up, the US Army Corps of "I firmly believe that that was the fastest any Buffett special.''
Engineers and people exploring remote hovercraft has gone - and I was privileged to
areas that cannot be reached by other be aboard. It was unfortunate that we didn't Fast Cats' first vessel, the “PurrSeaverance,''
means. take a GPS [global positioning system] with will run between Bradenton and Key West.
us to record the speed." In operation by mid-August, it will make two
"A little over one year ago the president of round trips a day, seven days a week.
the World Hovercraft Federation, Owen Ellis, Rennick said the possibility that the 2004
who lives in Melbourne, asked me about world hovercraft championships would be By January 2002, a sister ship will leave the
staging a 40th anniversary carnival in held in Canberra was "not a sure thing," as cruise terminal in Tampa, docking at the
Canberra to commemorate the first race and three other countries had also wanted to Vinoy or The Pier in St. Petersburg,
to make it the 2004 World Championship," host the 2004 race "but, out of respect of the continuing to Bradenton, stopping at St.
Fitzgerald said yesterday. 40th anniversary, have thus far withheld their Petersburg again and then returning to
proposals to the World Hovercraft Tampa.
"I'd like to expand this event into a Federation." The WHF had not yet received
Hovershow involving not only racing but an official presentation from A first-class ticket for the Bradenton - Key
other activities such as a world speed record Australia. West trip will cost $59 one way, or $94 one
attempt for hovercraft, meetings of
way for a VIP ticket, Rogers said. Round trip
hovercraft-related technical societies, and Whine Goes with Wine is double the cost. A round trip between
manufacturers' displays.
The whine of a hovercraft's engines can be Tampa and St. Petersburg is tentatively set
"I contacted various officials in Canberra and heard in picturesque wine-producing areas at $39.95.
after writing to Prime Minister John Howard in both Douro (Portugal) and Canberra
things started to happen. We are now (Australia). The boats are constructed of space - age
seeking approval from the National Capital Kevlar and carbon fibre. Each carries 150
Authority." Just as the Molonglo river, running through people. The boats will provide ramps to
Canberra, was dammed to form Lake Burley board customers in wheelchairs. A huge fan
The present world speed record is Griffin, a dam in Portugal's Rio (River) forces air below the boat, where the sides of
controversial. In an email from Russell, Douro provided a suitable expanse of water the hull seal it in. The cushion of air lifts the
Ontario, Canada, the secretary of the World f or the 19 9 5 wo r l d h ov e r cr af t boat, lessening the drag through the water.
Hovercraft Federation, Bob Rennick, said championships.
Bell Aerosystems recorded 105.8 mph with a “It's a cross between a catamaran and a
78ft SES-100B water jet propelled sidewall Back in 1809, British troops, led by the
Hovercraft,'' said Mark Antos, president of
vehicle in January 1980, but some experts Duke of Wellington, crossed the Douro
the ferry company. Passengers will sit in air-
had claimed that its rigid sidewalls River, engaged the French forces in heavy
conditioned comfort on reclining, aircraft-
prevented it being classified as a hovercraft fighting, captured Oporto, and pursued the
style seats and be offered deli-style meals,
as it was not an amphibious vehicle. French , who were retreating over the
sodas and a full bar.
mountains into Spain.
"I've spoken to a former Hoverspeed pilot
who claims to have had an unladen SR.N4 Molonglo's military connection is less The VIP lounge will offer full meals, an
[hovercraft engaged in a regular passenger dramatic: in 1918, towards he end of the exclusive wine list and espresso and
service crossing the English Channel] up first World War, the Australian Government cappuccino drinks.
over 100 knots during testing after a refit," opened Molonglo Internment Camp . A few
said Rennick. years later the camp became barracks for “The upper deck will be like going into a very
workmen building Parliament House and plush yacht,'' Rogers said, with leather
"The only real recorded attempt at a speed other buildings for the birth of a new city, on lounge-style seats, a bar, sofas and tables.
record that I'm aware of was after the World land where sheep had been grazing
Hovercraft Championships on the Rio Douro peacefully. Today, the site of the barracks is “This will be a fabulous ride.''
in Peso da Regua, part of the industrial suburb of Fyshwick.

July to September 2001 Page 26

Latest Books of Interest
called on: visit to the terminal at Southampton one
Sunday in those very early days, and bought
Its creation (Dr David Tomalin), the natural a cover, I doubt that I would be writing this
env ironment Andrew Butler), the now! Other events and names well-known to
development of The Solent as a waterway us figure in this book, and because it tells
(Dr David Tomalin and John Bingeman), The me so much more than I already knew, I
Solent as a naval and military waterway and found this compelling. But then I always find
the development of the flying boat (Nicola the social and human history of any of my
Horsey and Peter Sedgley), the enchanted pursuits of great interest.
shores and the Isle of Wight coastal voyage
(mainland - Maldwin and Gilly Drummond, Our slipstreams must have crossed from
Isle of Wight - Robin Mclnnes), yachts and time to time, for Mr. Lefeaux recounts his
yachtsmen (Maldwin Drummond), yacht visit to the Pool of London—I was there and
photography (Keith and Kenneth Beken) and have 'mail' to prove it—and the first flight of
The Solent today (Kate Ansell). the stretched N4 when I was on the Solent in
an N6. At the time of writing, I can't
(Note that Nicola Horsey, mentioned above, remember which, although I'm reasonably
is the Hovercraft Museum’s Hampshire certain that the answer will be found in in
Museums Coordinator). one of my 'I was there tales' in 'Slipstream'.
What I can remember is that the N6 was left
Orders can be placed direct with the behind by a speedy N4!
publishers -Thomas Reed Publications on
01224 868821. I thoroughly recommend this well written and
easily read book to all Members. It's price is
THE BOOK OF THE SOLENT WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE £11.95 and it is published by Pentland
Edited by Maldwin Drummond & Robin Books in Bishop Auckland. The ISB Number
Mclnnes HOVERCRAFT? is 1-85821-850.
By John Lefeaux
This colourful hardback book was published (You can obtain a copy of 'Whatever
on 24 July 2001—just in time for the busy (review by John Hobbs of the Hovermail
Happened To The Hovercraft?' by post from;
regatta weeks in August when The Solent Collectors Club)
The Association of Search & Rescue
area is continually in the news and bustling Hovercraft, Gosport Appeal, 24, Jellicoe
with visitors. This is the title of a new book written by John
Avenue, Alverstoke, Gosport, PO12 2PE
Lefeaux who, as a retired Commander R.N.
simply by adding £1.50 to cover post and
A wide spread of specialist authors has been joined British Rail Hovercraft (BRHL) as its
packing. The profits from the book sale via
bought together by the editors, who are Chief Engineer (and later became a pilot) on
ASRH will add to their coffers).
themselves well known as historians the creation of the company which traded as
specialising in the Isle of Wight and its 'Seaspeed', and retired as its Managing
adjacent Hampshire shores. This gives the Director in October 1981 when the
book a wide scope, exploring The Solent's businesses of Seaspeed and Hoverlloyd
long and fascinating history through to its merged as Hoverspeed.
present day role so well known to seamen
and yachtsmen. My collection of covers provides most of the
basic facts about hovercraft movements of
The Book of The Solent significance within BRHL, but not all, I was to
IMPRINT: Cross Publications and Thomas discover when reading this fascinating little
Reed Publications book. In 1966, and by way of an opportunity
TITLE: The Book of The Solent to meet people in both Dover and France
Editors: Maldwin Drummond & Robin who were preparing for the cross-Channel
Mclnnes service, a group of BRHL officials took an
PUBLISHING DATE: July 2001 SR.N6 up the Channel to Dover and
BINDING: Hardback with Dustcover Ramsgate via Newhaven and then across to
FORMAT: 273mm x 213mm Portrait Calais and Boulogne. From the latter port
EXTENT: 206 pages they flew to Le Touquet, then Newhaven,
ILLUSTRATIONS: 106 Colour, 100 Black & and after an overnight stop there, returned to
White Cowes the following day.
ISBN: 0 901281 301
PRICE: £26.00 The book is fascinating because it tells us, in
very readable form, so much about the
DESCRIPTION people who pioneered the two cross-Solent
The Solent is one of the most famous sailing services—SR.N6 first and then HM2—their
areas in the world. It lies between the shores relationships with The British Rail Board,
of Hampshire to the North and the Isle of some members of which appeared to be less
Wight to the South – a little under 30 miles. than enthusiastic about vehicles that often
This book tells of the creation of The Solent, did their best to go where they wanted in
its natural environment and development as those early days, than they were about trains
a waterway; its naval and military which were one-track-minded. We are also
development, its enchanted shores, havens told much about all aspects of the cross-
And finally...if you are lucky enough to have
and harbours, its yachting history and Channel services -interesting stuff.
one (or more) hold on to your Airfix SR.N4
photography, and The Solent as it is today. model kits. One recently sold on eBay
The author's prime ally was C.A. (Tony)
internet auctions for the equivalent of £200 !
THE AUTHORS Brindle who was the company's first general
Of course they are only worth this sort of
Edited by Robin Mclnnes and Maldwin manager and pilot, and creator of the first
money in original boxed (un-built) condition,
Drummond, the following experts have been official hovermail between the Isle of Wight
but they are now extremely hard to find.
and the mainland. If I hadn't made a casual

July to September 2001 Page 27

The Latest Zubr class hovercraft No. 702, as seen at the Almaz yard in St Petersburg before its delivery to Greece in August (Ian Maw)